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Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro 

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All Rights Reserved 

Book Name: Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Author: Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro 

Year of Publication: 2018 
Layout Imtiaz Ali Ansari 


Culture and Tourism Department, 
Government of Sindh, Karachi 


New Indus Printing Press 



ISBN: 978-969-8100-40-2 

Can be had from 

Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities Department 
Book shop opposite MPA Hostel 
Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidaytullah Road 
Phone 021-99206073 

Archaeology, Art and 
Religion in Sindh 

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro 

Culture and Tourism Department, 
Government of Sindh, Karachi 

Dedicated to my mother, Sahib Khatoon 
( 1935 - 1980 ) 


Preface and Acknowledgements 


Publisher’s Note 





Prehistoric Circular Tombs in Mol 
Valley, Sindh-Kohistan 



Megaliths in Karachi 



Human and Environmental Threats to 
Chaukhandi tombs and Role of Civil 



Jat Culture 



Camel Art 



Role of Holy Shrines and Spiritual Arts 
in People’s Education about Mahdism 



Depiction of Imam Mahdi in Sindhi 
poetry of Sindh 



Between Marhi and Math: The Temple 
of Veer Nath at Rato Kot 



One Deity, Three Temples: A Typology 
of Sacred Spaces in Hariyar Village, 






81 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

book could not have been possible without the help of 
many close acquaintances. First of all, I am indebted to 
Mr. Abdul Hamid Akhund of Endowment Fund Trust for 
Preservation of the Heritage who provided timely 
financial support to restore and conduct research on 
megaliths of Thohar Kanarao. I wish to thank Naseer 
Mirza who provided me information and books for two of 
the articles on Imam Mahdi. I am equally grateful to 
Sohbo Khan Jamali who introduced me to many Jats of 
Digano and Bakhar Jamali when I was doing M.Phil 
research on camel art. Two of the papers on Jats have 
been extracted from my M.Phil dissertation. Mr. Sobho 
Khan Jamali was of great help indeed. I also benefitted 
from the help of Anbji Jago and his son Panchraj Singh 
Jago of Hariyar village who provided most of the 
information about Malhan Devi and Hario Jago. I am also 
grateful to my friend Gul Hasan Kalmati for his help in 
writing article on human and environmental threats to 

The list of acknowledgments would not be complete 
without mention of my family and dear friends who 
constantly encouraged me and lifted my morale in many 
ways and this helped me to complete this book. I am 
thankful to my wife who stood by me on every occasion 
and provided the much needed inspiration to successfully 
finalize this arduous work and encouraged to pursue my 
research on Sindh. I feel grateful to my good friend 
Muhammad Juman Zardari who sometimes accompanied 
in the field. Finally my word of appreciation for Sohail 
Ahmed who diligently undertook to proofread and edit 
the manuscript. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh | 7 

Preface and Acknowledgements 

This book comes out of my ongoing research that I 
have been doing on religion and art in Sindh since 2000. 
The journey that I undertook to study Sindhi syncretism, 
asceticism and mysticism led me to focus on those 
dimensions which were not investigated earlier. My 
anthropological pursuits broadened my horizon and gave 
me impetus to write more on these hitherto unknown 
aspects of Sindhi culture and religion. 

Sindh’s rich cultural and religious diversity makes it 
unique in Pakistan. In past few decades, there has been a 
growing interest in the archaeology of Sindh by both 
local and international scholars. There has been a 
welcome shift from the international scholars and 
researchers’ work upon which we solely relied upon to 
especially national local Sindhi scholars who have been 
contributing in English language and bringing hitherto 
unknown tangible and intangible heritage of Sindh to 
international limelight. This trend has facilitated young 
archaeologists and anthropologists to explore the hidden 
treasures of Sindh. The present book is also one in the 
series on those hidden and unknown cultural and 
religious diversity that Sindh has been celebrating since 
ages. It is a collection of articles dealing with 
archaeology, art and religion in Sindh which I have 
discussed in detail in the introduction. 

I have sincerely endeavored to provide information in 
the papers that I collected over a period of time. This 

10 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

written on history of Jats in Sindh but not much is 
available on their folklore and art. In this book two 
articles, based on primary sources, deal with art, culture 
and folklore of Jats. The author has also touched upon 
the lesser known but important religious communities in 
his book. This includes Veer nathi Panth, a panth which 
has not earlier been discussed by any of the researchers 
and scholars. Veer nathi panth is believed to have been 
named after Veer Nath who lived in the sixteenth century 
Sindh, first mentioned in his poetry by eminent Sindhi 
Sufi poet Shah Inayat. The Risalo of Shah Abdul Latif is 
full of references to Nath Jogis for which Shah has used 
several titles to refer to them. Shah Abdul Latif has 
devoted two whole surs Ramkali and Khahori exclusively 
to the Nath Jogis and there are also some references in 
other surs of the Risalo. The article by Dr. Kalhoro is 
very useful in understanding the history and development 
of Veer nathi order. He also throws light on his various 
disciples who spread Veer nathi Panth in Sindh, Punjab, 
Gujrat and Rajasthan. There is also an interesting and 
useful material on the sacred typology of Hariyar village 
in Tharparkar. 

I hope this book will be useful and equally important 
addition to the existing cultural treasures of Sindh and for 
the students of anthropology, archaeology, history, art 
history, literature and comparative religions on one hand 
and for the general reader on other. 

Ghulam Akbar Laghari 

Secretary to Govt of Sindh 
Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Department 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh | 9 

Publisher’s Note 

The Culture Department, Government of Sindh has 
been promoting and preserving Sindh’s culture and 
heritage with dedication through a number of activities. 
In recent years, the Department has intensified its 
activities to promote and highlight Sindh’s culture 
through multiple cultural events including seminars, 
workshops, conferences, cultural programs and festivals. 
A frequent holding of these cultural events has made 
Culture Department one of the most sustainable and 
vibrant amongst the provincial culture departments of the 
rest of the provinces in Pakistan. Apart from organizing 
regular cultural events, Culture Department also 
publishes books on history, language and literature, 
Sufism, heritage and culture of Sindh in Sindhi, Urdu and 
English languages. The present book written by an 
eminent anthropologist Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro is the 
latest edition in the series of documentation of Sindh’s 
history and heritage that this department is doing for 
posterity. Dr. Kalhoro’s book deals with some of the 
most important dimensions of Sindh’s archaeology, art 
and religion. One of the uniqueness of the book is its 
focus on hitherto unknown heritage sites including one on 
Megaliths in Karachi. We have already Indus period sites 
in Karachi district but the discovery of and discussions on 
megaliths in Karachi reflect how rich the region of 
Karachi was in the ancient times. Moreover, the author 
has also delineated similar types of monuments in other 
provinces in the country. Something has already been 

12 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Cult practices hosted by South-West University Neofit 
Rilski University Research Center for Ancient European 
and Eastern Mediterranean Cultures at Blagoevgrad, 12- 
15 October 2016. The symposium was attended by the 
renowned archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and 
heritage managers from across the globe. The subject of 
megaliths is entirely new in the archaeological annals of 
Sindh. In this paper I have only discussed megaliths in 
Karachi which I extracted from my forthcoming book on 
‘Megalithic Sindh’ , a book that deals extensively with 
different types of megaliths in Sindh. Megaliths have 
been found in other parts of Pakistan too but those in 
Sindh are totally unknown to archaeologists, 
anthropologists and historians to this day. Many different 
types of megaliths have been discussed in my 
forthcoming book on megalithic Sindh which include 
dolmens, stone circles, stone circular structures, stone 
alignments, menhirs. During my exploration and 
documentation of megaliths in Sindh, I came across many 
large stone circles and stone alignments some of which 
were in very bad state of preservation. One of the stone 
circles was restored to its original condition with the 
financial help from Endowment Fund Trust for the 
Preservation of the Heritage of Sindh (EFT). 

Another paper “Human and Environmental threats to 
Chaukhcindi and role of civil society” was presented in a 
conference at Istanbul. I have discussed the human and 
environmental threats to Chaukhcindi tombs and the kind 
of role civil society can play to safeguard them. We know 
that many of the scholars and art lovers are only familiar 
with Chaukhandi tombs which are located in Karachi. A 
few people know that Chaukhandi tombs are distributed 
throughout length and breadth of Sindh from Makhi, Mol, 
Malir,Moidan, Maher to Mai Maari valleys. I have 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 111 


Sindh is a land of mystics, mysteries, myths, and 
monuments. Almost every village and town has history 
to boast legendry values, tribes to tell myths of their 
origin, religious groups to mirror the unique social 
transformation, peculiarities and distinctive features to 
celebrate and artisans to carry forward centuries old 
artistic traditions. While travelling through the cultural 
landscape of Sindh, one comes across both prehistoric 
and historic monuments which have withstood the 
vagaries of weather narrating the tales of culturally rich 
bygone past of Sindh. Many a monuments are now 
important part of history. 

This book is a collection of 9 articles dealing with 
broader themes of archaeology, art and religion. Some of 
the articles were published earlier in national and 
international journals which were not accessible to 
Pakistani scholars who are working on the history, 
anthropology, archaeology and religion of Sindh. Four of 
these presented in the international conferences have also 
been included in the book. These include Megaliths in 
Karachi, Human and Environmental threats to 
Chaukhandi tombs and role of civil society Karachi, 
Depiction of Imam Mahdi in Sindhi poetry and Role of 
Holy Shrines and Spiritual Arts in People’s Education 
about Mahdism. Last two papers were presented in the 
conferences in Tehran. Likewise, two other papers 
notably “Megaliths in Karachi” was presented in Second 
International Symposium on Megalithic Monuments and 

14 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

The temple of Veer Nath is located at Ratokot in the 
district of Sanghar. We know that Sindh has been land of 
Naths, Puris, Giris, Udasis, Bharatis etc, all renouncers 
belonging to different renunciatory orders within 
ascetism. It is an introductory type of write-up furnishing 
very basic information on Nath ascetics in general and 
Veernathi sampradaya in particular. 

Another article, which is the last article in the book, 
is about typology of sacred spaces in Hariyar village in 
Tharparkar. Many sacred spaces associated with Hindu 
deities, deified heroes, satis and ascetics have been 
discussed in the book. 

This book will be equally important for 
anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians, and 
students of comparative religions. Most of the topics have 
never been focused or discussed earlier. This makes the 
book different from earlier published material on Sindh. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 113 

documented more than one hundred such graveyards 
where there are stone-carved graves, popularly known as 
Chaukhandi and Rumi tombs. A lot has already been 
written on Chaukhandi tombs highlighting different 
dimensions be they pictorial, floral, geometric designs, 
provenance or symbols etc. Many scholars believe that 
majority of the tombs belong to Baloch tribes which is 
not true as my research is contrary to what has been 
claimed by these scholars. I have delineated in my 
forthcoming book “ Tombs and Tribes: New Perspectives 
on Chaukhandi Art in Sindh ” that the majority of 
Chaukhandi tombs belong to Sindhi tribes, be they 
Burfats, Barejas, Balharas, Palejas, Palaris, Jokhias, 
Jakhras and many others. I have discussed the tribal 
association of tombs in my forthcoming book. Due to 
indifferent attitude of concerned authorities, the 
Chaukhandi tombs are in process of gradual decay slab 
by slab. I have discussed in the paper some human and 
environmental threats that Chaukhandi tombs face today. 

Two articles namely Jat Culture and Camel art have 
been extracted from my M.Phil dissertation in 
Anthropology. Both articles give first hand information 
about culture and art of Jat community in Bakhar Jamali 
and surrounding villages in Matiari district. There are 
very interesting theories of origin about Jats of Sindh. A 
lot has been written on the history of Jat community, but 
hardly anything is available on their art and culture. Both 
articles provide new insight into the Jat community’s 
culture and art. I hope that both the articles will also 
provide a springboard for further research on their art and 

Two other articles deal with religious diversity in 
Sindh. The first one is about the Veernathi panth in Sindh 
which is believed to have been founded by Veer Nath. 

16 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

run-off through Desoi, Dawoo, Darwat and other torrents 
during the periods of intensive rain (Mirjat et al 2011: 
104). The main hill torrents that traverse the landscape of 
Thana Bula Khan Tehsil are Baran, Desoi, Drigh, 
Loyachh, Morai and Mol (Kalhoro 2011.141). 

Mol Town, which derives its name from the Mol 
Nai, is also very rich in archaeological sites. The Mol, 
starting from a height of 2,000 feet, continues to flow 
southward until it unites with Khadeji, and the combined 
stream, well-known as the “Malir”, falls into the sea by 
way of the Ghizri Creek, a little distance east of Karachi 
(Lambrick 1986:45). On both banks of the Mol Nai, a 
large number of ancient settlement sites, rock-art sites, 
megalithic structures and pre-Islamic and Islamic Period 
tombs are located. One also finds a large number of 
gabarbands (ancient dams) in the various tributaries of 
the Mol Nai. 

Description of the Sites 

There are two circular pit graves that were illegally 
shoved by the local people in the hope of finding some 
treasure. Both graves are located about 10 km north of 
Mol Town between the two nais - Mol and Drigh (Fig. 
1). The Nai Drigh is a tributary of the Mol Nai. There are 
many menhirs and stone alignments near both nais. I will 
give my observations about both sites in the text that 

Bapro Rek Buthi 

This buthi (hill) is located on the right bank of the 
Drigh Nai (Fig. 2). The buthi is fifteen metres in height. 
The whole buthi is covered with graves from the Pre- 
Islamic Period which are oriented eastwest. On the 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 115 

Prehistoric Circular Tombs 
In Mol Valley, Sindh-Kohistan 


This paper is about the discovery of prehistoric stone 
circular tombs in Mol Valley which I found during the 
survey of the megaliths and rock art sites in the Kohistan 
region of Sindh. The circular structures had been illegally 
dug by treasure-hunters. In this paper, I will present my 
observations on these historical burial sites. Moreover, I 
also interviewed the diggers to find out the original 
architecture of these circular tombs. The information 
about the graves’ goods and the positions of the dead 
bodies in these graves was also collected from the tomb- 

The Sindh-Kohistan region, located between the 
main hilly ranges of Balochistan and the Indus alluvial 
plains, is a scattered low-lying hilly area with gravelly 
soil that was covered at some time with alluvial soil 
suitable for the purpose of cultivation and an alluvium- 
rich valley. The main hilly sequences of Sindh Kohistan 
are Lakhi, Kambhu, Badhar, Bhit and Dumbar (Quddus 

Thana Bula Khan, a tehsil of District Jamshoro, is 
the main town in Sindh-Kohistan. The drainage slope of 
hill torrents in the area is towards Baran Nai. Most of the 
catchments of Thana Bula Khan collect the surplus of 

18 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

resembles the one found on the Bapro Rek Buthi. It is 
also a circular pit grave (Fig. 7). The depth of the circular 
pit grave is about 1.5 metres with a diameter of two 
metres. The stone circular grave was five feet high. The 
interior of the grave is aligned with dressed stones of 
unequal size and form. Interestingly, hammer marks are 
visible on the outer faces of the stone slabs. Moreover, 
one finds three cupules on a dislodged slab of the tomb 
(Fig. 8). The cupules appear to be associated with 
funerary rituals. Bull terracotta figurines and small 
pottery vessels were also found inside this grave. I was 
only shown the pottery vessels (Figs. 9 & 10) which also 
seem to belong to the Kot Dijian Period. 

Similar stone circular graves are also found near 
the Chakhari Nai which is also a tributary of the Mol Nai. 

I have seen several such stone circular stmctures 
in the valleys of Maher, Tiko Baran, Belli Thap and 
Taung in Sindh (Fig. 11). A few stone circular structures 
have also been found in the Rek Valley in Thana Bula 
Khan Tehsil. Some stone circular structures also exist in 
the Gaj and Nali Valleys, with the largest stone circular 
stmcture seen at Rohel Ji Kund in the Gaj Valley (Fig. 
12 ). 


Stone circular structures are known to the scholars 
who are working in Sindh, but none of the scholars have 
been able to figure out when these were built. Only 
Fairservis, who studied similar circular structures in Las 
Bela and Makran, Balochistan, correlated these structures 
to death rituals. He has given their dates to be between 
1400 BC and 1800 AD. However, the illegal excavation 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 117 

northern side of the hill a stone circular structure is 
located which was illegally dug by the local people (Fig. 
3). Both the interior and the exterior of the grave are 
circular in shape (Fig. 4). According to the grave 
diggers, it was a stone circular structure standing six feet 
tall and had an entrance which opened to the east. One 
may believe the information of the diggers that it was 
circular structure as the lower slabs of the stone circular 
structures are still visible which indicate that the 
information provided by the diggers is correct. 

The interior walls of the graves have dress-stone 
slabs laid one on top of the other. According to the tomb- 
raiders, the burial rite was flexed, with body interred in a 
fetal position. The small pottery vessels and bull 
terracotta figurines were placed near the head of the 
skeletal remains. To the south of the circular graves three 
standing menhirs are located (Fig. 5). The central menhir 
is taller than the others. The height of the central menhir 
is ten feet. The flanking menhirs are smaller and their 
heights are three and six feet respectively. Near these 
menhirs are also located a few circular structures of 
which one has been excavated. Nothing was found in this 
circular structure. However, pottery vessels were found 
from the larger stone circular structures which at first 
glance seem to be from the Kot Dijian culture. 

Shaikhani Buthi 

This buthi (hill) is located 500 metres west of Bapro 
Rek. The height of this buthi is about eight metres. At its 
foothill, a few graves which are oriented east-west can be 
seen. On top of the hill a circular pit grave which has 
also been illegally excavated, is seen (Fig. 6). This 

20 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 


1. Fairservis, Jr. Walter A., 1975 Roots of Ancient India: The 
Archaeology: of Indian Civilization. The University of 
Wisconsin- Madison USA. Chicago Press (second edition - 

2. Flam, Louis. 1981. Paleography and Prehistoric Settlement 
Patterns in Sind, Pakistan (ca. 4000-2000 B.C). Ph.D. 
Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. 

3. Flam, Louis and Harvey, D. Micheal. 1993. Prehistoric 
Soil and water detention structures (Gabarbands) at Phang, 
Sindh Kohistan, Pakistan: An Adaptation to Environmental 
Change? Geoarchaeology: 8 (2): 109-126. 

4. Kalhoro, Zulfiqar Ali. 2011. Little Pyramids: The Tombs of 
Burfat Tombs at Taung, Thana Bula Khan, Sindh. Pakistan 
Historical Society: Vol L1X, No.4, pp.141- 171. 

5. Lambrick, .H.T. 1942.Amateur Excursions in Archaeology, 
Lower Sind-1941 .The Journal of the Sind Historical Society 
VI (2): 104-108. 

6. Lambrick. H.T. 1986. Sindh: A General Introduction , 3 rd ed. 
Jamshoro: Sindhi Adabi Board. 

7. Majumdar, N.G. 1934. Explorations in Sindh, Memoirs of 
Archaeological survey of India 48. New Delhi: Government 
of India. 

8. Mallah, Qasid Hussain. 2009. An Archaeological 
Assessment of Taung Valley of Sindh-Kohistan Pakistan. 
Ancient India Vol.2, pp.93-112. 

9. Mirjat et al.2011. Potential of Hill-Torrent space spate 
Irrigation in the Kohistan Areas of Sindh: A case study. 
Pakistan Journal of Agriculture 21 (2): 100-114. 

10. Quddus, Syed Abdul, 1992. Sindh: The land of Indus 
Civilizations. Karachi: Royal Book Company. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 119 

over the years has exposed that the true objective of these 
stone circular structures was that they were burial sites. 
The illegal digging of the graves also provides some clue 
about the shape of the graves and the pieces of pottery 
found in the graves. No lithic material or pottery was 
found on the surface of either of the hills. The pottery 
vessels were only found inside the graves and this pottery 
seems to belong to Kot Dijian Period (3200-2800 B.C.) 
(Personal communication with J. Mark Kenoyer refers). 
Several similar pottery vessels were found in the graves 
which suggest that these graves should not be seen in 
isolation. There are a few Kot Dijian settlement sites in 
Sindh-Kohistan. However, the main Kot Dijian 
settlement site can be seen on Kohtrash Buthi and Phang 
which was first investigated by Majumdar (1934) and 
later by Flam (1981). Several other prehistoric structures 
such as gabarbands have also been studied by Flam and 
Harvey (1993) who have confirmed them to be of the Kot 
Dijian Period. One can argue on the basis of the pottery 
vessels and the existence of prehistoric structures and 
sites that these stone circular structures may belong to the 
Kot Dijian Period. However, the presence of menhirs 
near the stone circular structures also provides an 
additional clue that the site of Bapro Rek was later 
occupied by people in the Iron Age. 

22 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Malir, Mol, Taung, Maal Mari, Jungshahi, Johi, Sehwan 
and Thohar Kanaro. They can also be found in Mithi and 
Nagarparkar regions of Tharparkar. Nobody earlier 
reported the discovery of large number of megaliths in 
the above-mentioned regions of Sindh (Kalhoro 2014). 

Menhirs in Karachi are engraved with cupules and 
rock carvings. A few menhirs with cupules are also found 
in Thana Bula Khan which I discovered in 2014. 
Moreover, engraved menhirs are also found in Jungshahi 
area in Thatta district. I also discovered menhirs with 
cupules in Nagarparkar in year 2015. 

Interestingly, the megaliths in Sindh contain 
cupules and engravings. There are several such 
megalithic structures in Thana Bula Khan and Johi which 
contain petroglyphs. However, the most interesting 
megaliths are found in Karachi which includes menhirs, 
stone circles, stone alignments/rows and dolmens. 
Cupules have been found in some of these megaliths. 

Megaliths are venerated in Thana Bula Khan tehsil 
in Jamshoro district. The people of Barija tribe slaughter 
a goat and spray its blood on menhir when there is no rain 
in the village. The menhir is invoked to bring rain. 
Likewise, people of Kanra tribe of Mol also worship 
these megaliths and believe that these sacred spaces were 
made by their ancestors who introduced Islam in Sindh- 
Kohistan region of Sindh. 

However, I will discuss below different types of 
megaliths in Gadap tehsil of Karachi district. 

Thohar Kanaro 

This village is located 50 km north of Karachi and is 
famous for megalithic monuments. There are three 
megalithic sites located in south, north and east of the 
village. The main megalithic complex is located in the 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 121 

Megaliths in Karachi 


The subject of megaliths in Pakistan has not been so 
far probed in depth. Having spent several years in 
investigating Sindh’s megalithic monuments, I have 
discovered a new, fascinating and complex subject as 
these apparently are stretched over different periods of 
time. In recent explorations, I have discovered several 
megalithic sites in Khirthar, Bado, Lakhi mountain 
ranges and Kohistan region of Sindh. During the frequent 
trips to Gadap Taluka of Karachi District, I came across 
several prehistoric and Bronze Age settlement sites. The 
landscape of Karachi is dotted with prehistoric and 
historic period monuments. The prehistoric monuments 
include stone circles, stone circular structures, menhirs, 
dolmens, and stone alignments/rows. Historic monuments 
comprise mostly stone carved graves erected between the 
thirteenth and nineteenth centuries. However, this paper 
deals with megalithic monuments in Gadap tehsil of 
Karachi. All the megalithic monuments were discovered 
between 2009 and 2015. Therefore, this paper describes 
all the megalithic monuments discovered during the 
afore-mentioned years. 

Megaliths have been also found in other parts of 
Pakistan. They have been also reported from Yasin valley 
in Ghizer district, Gilgit-Baltistan (Dani 2001) and Swat 
valley in Khyber Paktunkhwa (Vidale and Olivieri 2004). 
Megaliths are also found in many regions of Sindh and 
are particularly abundant in Thana Bula Khan, Gadap, 

24 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Naugon. Pawar (2012) also reports a menhir and a 
dolmen with cup-marks from Hirapur, India. According 
to him there are thirty nine cup-marks on the capstone of 
the dolmen. Not a single report has been published about 
megaliths and cupules in Pakistan. Although one finds 
several reports by Italian archaeologists from Swat, there 
is no report of cupules associated with menhirs and 
dolmens in this part of Sindh. However, I have 
discovered a large number of menhirs and dolmens with 
cupules in Sindh which are found in the regions of Thana 
Bula Khan, Mai Maari, Jungshahi, Makhi, Moidan and 
Thohar Khanaro. 

The southern face of Thohar Kanaro menhir has 
human and geometric carvings. It also has interesting 
four-dot-pattern carvings. The whole surface from bottom 
to top is engraved with such four dots. These dots might 
have some symbolic significance and meanings to the 
prehistoric population of Maher valley who made and 
worshipped these stones. 

Eastern Megaliths of Thohar Kanaro 

There are also a few megalithic monuments in the 
east of Thohar Kanaro. This includes a menhir, stone 
alignment and cairn. Stone alignment is surrounded by 
low-lying hills of Thohar Kanaro (Fig. 15). There were 
15 small and large monoliths in the stone alignment. Only 
one monolith is still standing while all others have fallen 
to the ground now. The standing monolith has grid-like 
patterns. To the east of this stone row is located a 
reclining menhir. To the west of menhir and stone is a 
cairn (Fig. 16) perched on a hill overlooking a hill stream. 
This cairn is topped with a small menhir. 

Kararo Muqam Megaliths 

There are several megaliths at Kararo Muqam which 
lies two km west of Thohar Kanaro that include cairns, 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 123 

south of the village. These are a stone circle, a square 
structure, menhirs, and two stone rows. 

There are two stone circles at Thohar Kanaro, one 
small and the other large. The larger stone circle is 
located west of the engraved menhir. About 19 
monoliths were used to make this stone circle (Fig. 13). 
Three monoliths were found lying broken on the ground. 
It has a diameter of 68 feet, the largest stone circle so far 
discovered in Sindh. One also finds large stone circles in 
Thana Bula Khan valley. Plenty of these are found in Sari 
and Mol valleys of Thana Bula Khan which are venerated 
by local community. The villagers believe that these 
sacred spaces belonged to their ancestors and some of 
these are invoked on special occasions. 

To the south of stone circle is a square structure, 
locally called kotero. Such square structures are 
abundantly found in Sindh-Kohistan region of Sindh 
province. The main entrance of the square structure opens 
to the east. The heights of walls are not more than three 
feet. Close to this square structures are some ancient 
rectangular graves and two stone alignments. The first 
stone alignment has six monoliths and another has five 
monoliths. Both stone alignments also lie west of the 
engraved menhir (Fig. 14). 

The menhir contains petroglyphs. There are three 
or four such engraved menhirs in Gadap tehsil of Karachi 
district. The menhir of Thohar Kanaro also contains 
cupules. Menhirs with cupules have been reported from 
different regions in India also. 

A few researchers also report cupules associated 
with megaliths that are especially connected with menhirs 
and dolmens. Mathpal (1995), who studied the rock art of 
Kumaon Himalaya, reports several monoliths with 
cupules. These monoliths are located at Joyon and 

26 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

referred to as the grave of Asahbo, a term that is used for 
the companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace 
be upon him). Any grave of unusual size is always 
referred to either of Asahbo or Sufi saint in Sindh- 
Kohistan region of Sindh. The grave is oriented south- 
north and marked with two monoliths north and south of 
the grave (Fig. 18). Another grave marked with a 
monolith is at a walking distance from this grave. There 
is also a stone circle at this site which is revered by local 

Wankhand Megaliths 

This megalithic site is located three km east of Maher 
valley on the bank of Wankhand hill stream. There are 
menhirs and stone circles at this site (Fig. 19). Apart from 
menhirs and stone circles, there is also a large stone 
circular structure which is associated with giants (Fig. 
20). Local people believe that giants built this structure. 
Likewise, people also associate the rock paintings in 
Maher valley with giants. Maher valley which is situated 
50 km north of Karachi is home to one of the largest 
Mesolithic sites in Karachi region. This valley comprises 
rock art and megalithic sites. There are also ancient dams 
( gabarbands ) which were built on Maher hill stream. 

Stone circular structures are aplenty in Mol, Malir, 
Moidan, Makhi, Mai Maari, Taung, Sari, Baran, Gaj, Nali 
and Thado valleys of Sindh. I have discussed some of 
these stone circular structures elsewhere (Kalhoro 2013). 
There is also a menhir east of Kand Jhnag amid historic 
Chaukhandi tombs of Jakhra tribe (Fig. 21). 

The Wankhand Menhir lies east of stone circular 
stmcture. Menhirs are found almost in every other village 
in Gadap. However, many are found in Thohar Kanaro, 
Melo and Mol valleys in Gadap tehsil. I also found some 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 125 

stone circles, and menhirs. Apart from megaliths, there 
are also cup-marks at this site. There is a rock shelter at 
this site where people take rest in the summers. While 
their livestock graze in the open fields the shepherds of 
Thohar Kanaro take rest in this place. People who visit 
the site as recreation almost always engrave something in 
the rock shelter. Shoe and hand-prints are found on top 
overhang of rock shelter. The carving with steel axe the 
most potent weapon of shepherds has been found in rock 
shelter. Carvings of axe in Gadap tehsil are aplenty. Any 
novice artist makes first attempt of his skill by engraving 
a hand print with an axe. The axe petroglyphs are in 
abundance at Lahaut rock art site in Mol and Thado 
valleys. Interestingly, these amateur artists sometimes 
also inscribe their names with axe or hand-print 

Burfat Village Stone Alignment 

This village is located three km north of Thohar 
Kanaro village. There is a stone alignment at Burfat 
village. There were three monoliths in this stone 
alignment out of which two have collapsed (Fig. 17). A 
lone monolith is still standing. Both recumbent monoliths 
contain geometric designs and atypical cupules. Close to 
this stone row are a number of recumbent monoliths and 
boulders. These seem to have been important prehistoric 
sites due to the presence of so many boulders which were 
brought from other locations. 

Ak Waro Khet Megaliths 

This site is located four km north of Yar Muhammad 
Kanaro village. There are few megaliths at this site which 
include menhirs, graves with monoliths and stone circle. 
The grave is located at ‘Khet waro muqanf. This grave is 

28 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

is oriented south-north (Fig. 23). There are 11 monoliths in 
the stone alignment. Five monoliths are still standing while 
six have fallen. The local community regards this as a 
sacred space and does not cultivate or cut a tree near this 
alignment fearing the curse of those who made this sacred 
alignment. The cup-marks are located south of this 
alignment. There are 11 cup marks at this site. The cup- 
marks are found in Khirthar, Bado, and Lakhi ranges of 
Sindh. Apart from these ranges, a large number of them 
can also be found in Maher, Thana Bula Khan and Gadap 
regions of Karachi and Jamshoro districts respectively. 
Some cupule sites are located along the Baran and Mol 
valleys. Locally these cup-marks are called jogun, piyala 
or ukhareyon. They were used for a variety of purposes. 
Some small cup-marks were used and are still in use by 
people in Khirthar as oil lamps. This does not mean that 
their original use was also the same; in fact some large 
cup-marks were used for grinding spices, grains and 
making paints (Kalhoro 2014). Bednarik (2010) has listed 
216 functions of the cup-marks. 

An early description of the cupules is by Rivett- 
Carnac (1883) who studied the cupules in Kumaon and 
Central India. He stated that cupules were frequent 
around Mahadeo shrines and temples and these were 
associated with carvings of lingam and yoni signs. In his 
other paper he attempted to explain cup-mark variability, 
calling it permutation, as proto-writing code (Rivett- 
Carnac 1903). 

There are several studies on Indian cupules (Kumar 
1995, Bednarik and Pawar 2012). The growing interest 
on the rock art in general and cupules in particular among 
rock art scholars in India has prompted them to form 
regional rock art societies to deal with the subject 
systematically. Some of the studies by Kumar (1995), 
Kumar and Robert (2002) provide the dating of the 
cupules to many scholars already working on the cup- 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 127 

menhirs at Ghaggar Phatak on the Karachi- Thatta Road 

Sari Jhap Megaliths 

This megalithic site is located three km east of Gadap 
town. There are three stone circular and one square 
structure at this site. All these structures are still 
considered sacred by local community who protects them 
religiously and do not let anyone move any of these 
stones from the site. There are also petroglyphs near these 
structures. Majority of the carvings are geometric. Some 
shoe prints have also been engraved by shepherds who 
graze their livestock there. Interestingly, numerous 
modern petroglyphs are found here. Some of the 
shepherds have engraved drawings of trucks and buses. 
In their pastime while their animals are grazing, they 
keep themselves busy in engraving their names and hand 
prints. The young shepherds when interviewed told me 
that the first thing they learn when they grow up is to 
engrave hand-print. They keep engraving till they become 
skillful artists. Later, as they become more artistic and 
dexterous they engrave shoe-prints, animals and whatever 
they observe around them. They use both stone and steel 
tools for engraving. A variety of knives are also used to 
engrave on a boulder and rock wall. 

There are also ancient petroglyphs near these circular 
structures. Some signs seem to be Sasanian tamga 
( nishans ). Similar signs are still stamped on the cattle of 
local community in Gadap tehsil, Karachi. 

Melo Buthi Stone Alignment 

This megalithic site is located five km east of Gadap. 
There are several mortars and ancient graveyards at this 
site. Apart from this, there is also a stone alignment which 

30 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

menhirs and six dolmens. The dolmen are square 
stmctures made of four orthostats (one for each side) 
supporting a capstone. The capstones of most of the 
dolmens are either broken or lying nearby the structure. 
There are several dolmen sites in Karachi. I discovered 
16 dolmen sites during my expedition of 6 years, from 
2009 to 2015. I will discuss all dolmen sites in my 
forthcoming paper on the “Discovery of Dolmen sites in 

Usman Shah Megaliths 

This megalithic site is located two km north of Rozi 
Band. There are two cairn circles one km before the 
shrine of Usman Shah on the Moidan-Kand Jhang Road 
(Fig. 26). Both cairn circles are considered sacrosanct by 
local community. There is also a dolmen one km north of 
the shrine of Usman Shah on way to Kand Jhang. 


The megaliths of Gadap in Karachi were not reported 
earlier as not even a single megalith was ever excavated. 
On the basis of excavation of similar structures in India 
one can argue that megaliths of Karachi also belong to 
Bronze and Iron Age. One cannot say with certainty that 
all the megaliths are burials. On the basis of illegitimate 
digging by treasure-hunters, one can conclude that no 
human remains were found from any of the megaliths. It 
is possible that some of the megaliths especially square 
stmctures and stone alignments represent the religious 
places of the Bronze and Iron Age people. The 
association of cup-marks with some of the megaliths is 
also interesting. These cup-marks on dolmens and 
menhirs may have been ancient calendars. 

All these megalithic sites are considered as sacred 
spaces. There is an interesting folklore that surrounds the 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 129 

marks in different parts of India. 

In Pakistan, not many studies have been done on the 
cup-marks. Cupules were given a scholarly attention by 
Italian scholars Olivieri and Vidale (2004, 2005) and 
Pakistani scholars (Kalhoro 2010-11). The Italian 
scholars focused on the cupules in Swat valley. They 
have documented several cupules sites in the valley. The 
present author also documents several cupule sites in 
Islamabad and Sindh. The cup-marks in Sindh are totally 
unknown to scholars who are working in Pakistan. 

Manhah Buthi Menhir 

This hill is located three km east of Melo Buthi. 
There are a few cairns and a menhir overlooking Mol- 
Gadap road (Fig. 24). The cairns have been illegally 
excavated by treasure-hunters. 

Rozi Band Megaliths 

This megalithic site is located 25 km from Gadap 
town. This site is famous for dolmens, square stmctures 
and menhirs. Local community of Moidan and other 
villages does not cultivate or graze their cattle near this 
sacred site of Rozi Band. As discussed above almost all 
the megalithic sites are considered sacred by the local 
community and they do not vandalize any of the 

The square stmcture ( kotero ) is the main megalith at 
this site (Fig 25). The walls of stmcture are two feet high. 
The northern walls are flanked by monoliths. It seems 
that there were two monoliths on northern side of 
stmctures also which may have flattened over the period 
of time. However, no monolith was found close to the 

To the west of this square stmcture is a cairn-circle. 
Not much can be said about this as no excavation was 
carried out. To the south of this cairn circle are two 

I 31 

32 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 


1. Bednarik, Robert. G. 2010. “The interpretations of 

cupules”. In Mysterious Cup Marks, Proceedings of the 
First International Cupule Conference ed. Roy Querejazu 
Lewis and Robert G. Bednarik 67-73. Oxford: Bar 
International Series. 

2. Dani, Ahmed Hasan. 2001. History of Northern Areas of 
Pakistan(Upto 2000 AD). Lahore: Sang-e-Meel 

3. Kumar, Giriraj. 1995. “Daraki-Chattan: A Palaeolithic 
cupule site in India.” Purakala 6, (1-2). 

4. Kalhoro, Zulfiqar Ali. 2010-2011 “Rock Art of 

Islamabad ".Ancient, pp.27-35. 

5. Kalhoro, Zulfiqar Ali. 2014. Rock Slides and Rock 
Carvings in Angai Valley, Sindh-Pakistan, Arnava 3 (2):9- 

6. Kalhoro, Zulfiqar Ali. 2014. Cup-marks in Gadap, Karachi 
(Sindh, Pakistan) In Rock Art: Recent Researches and New 
Perspectives (Festschrift to Padma Sri.Dr. Yashodhar 
Mathpal) Vol.l, edited by Ajit Kumar 47-58. New Delhi: 
Bharatiya Book Corporation. 

7. Kalhoro, Zulfiqar Ali.2013. From Stone Tools to Steel 
Tools: Ethnographic Petroglyphs in Sindh, 25th 
International Valcamonica Symposium Proceedings 20-26 
September 2013 Capo di Ponte, Italy. 

8. Kalhoro, Zulfiqar Ali. 2013. Prehistoric Circular tombs in 
Mol Valley, Sindh-Kohistan. Pakistan. Journal of Asian 
Civilizations 36(2)115-125. 

9. Mathpal, Yashodhar. 1995. Rock art in Kumaon 
Himalaya. Sew Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the 

10. Olivieri, L.M and Vidale M. 2004.“Beyond Gogdara 1. New 
Evidence of Rock Artefacts from the Kandak valley and 
Adjacent Areas (Swat, Pakistan)”, East and West 54 (1-4): 

11. Olivieri, Luca M and Vidale M. 2005.’’Analytical 
recognition or Visual maya?A cup-marked Megalith in the 
Kandak Valley (Swat, Pakistan)”.L’a.vt and West 55 (1-4): 

12. Pawar, Kanti Kumar.2012.’’Petroglyphs from Hirapur 
Megaliths.’’RocA- art society of India Vol.22, pp.83-86. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

existence of megaliths. Some people believe that they 
were erected by giants in the past and were their worship 
places. This is one of the reasons that local people do not 
destroy the megaliths. Some other people believe that 
they were built by their ancestors but were not sure when 
these were erected. 

34 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

addicts. Today these famous tombs are facing multiple 
human and environmental threats. I will briefly discuss 
these threats to the heritage and finally recommend the 
role, civil society can play to safeguard these treasures of 
the past from further decay and damage.The Chaukhandi 
graveyard is a popular tourist attraction in Pakistan in 
general and for Karachi in particular. Many people visit 
the site daily. Chaukhandi tombs are not safe from the 
callous attitude of the visitors as majority of them without 
realizing the historical value of these monuments damage 
them by engraving their names on the slabs. Some of the 
decorative slabs have also been stolen. 

The descendants of Jokhia tribe also hold annual fair 
at the Chaukhandi of Pir Aari. During the festivities of 
Mela, people also deface the Chaukhandi tombs. The 
unabated extremism has also not spared this graveyard. 
The Taliban sent a stern warning in 2015 to the local 
people to stop holding annual fair otherwise they would 
detonate the Chaukhandi tomb of Pir Aari. Local people 
also confirmed this threat to funfair organizers when I 
met them. In 2013 Taliban had already destroyed 
Chaukhandi of Jam Miran. 

Another threat to Chaukhandi tombs is from grave¬ 
diggers who stole bones from the graves. The grave 
digging to steal bones is a booming business in Pakistan 
and it is more widespread in mega city of Karachi where 
the number of deaths is much higher than other places. 
These bones are used in black magic by those practicising 
hexes. The grave-robbers who dig, defile corpses and 
steal their bones remain at large and are seldom 
apprehended due to insufficient staff and non-availability 
of night watchmen at the Chaukhandi site. 

In the evenings, people are seen playing cricket in the 
cemetery and nobody stops them, even the night 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 133 

Human and Environmental Threats to 
Chaukhandi tombs and Role of Civil 



Pakistan has six world heritage sites and another 18 
on the tentative list. The Chaukhandi tombs have been on 
the tentative list of UNESCO world heritage status since 
1993. The Chaukhandi tombs are an astonishing 
collection of elaborately carved sandstone tombs 
belonging to the Jokhio and Baloch tribes dating back to 
the 15th-18th centuries (Fig.27). The tombs stretch for 
over two kilometers (Zajadacz -Hastenrath 2003; 
Kalhoro 2011; Hasan 1996). These tombs are located less 
than half a km off the National Highway, a thoroughfare 
that connects Karachi to Thatta, the ancient city that 
houses world heritage site of Makli. 

A decade ago, when one travelled on the National 
Highway to Bhambore, another heritage site on UNESCO 
tentative list Chaukhandi tombs were clearly visible. 
Today, unauthorised mushrooming of truck garages and 
parking lots has blocked the view of Chaukhandi tombs 
from the Highway. Moreover, a road that leads to 
Chaukhandi tombs is always blocked with heavy vehicles 
which are seen parked there in haphazard manner. 

Human Threats 

Chaukhandi tombs, once a popular tourist destination 
especially for Karachiites is now an abode of drug 

36 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

tombs (Fig.30). Many other trucks are seen dumping 
bajri (gravel) near Chaukhandi site. This bajri dumping 
ground is one of the biggest in Karachi. People involved 
in construction industry buy bajri from here. Therefore, 
this activity and emissions from heavy vehicles have 
damaged the Chaukahndi tombs. The original pale colour 
of dome of Jam Murid’s tomb now looks much 
blackened. Moreover, hazardous emissions from 
constant burning of solid waste in the vicinity of 
Chaukhandi has also unfortunately contributed to the 
gradual decay and ruining of the structures. 

Role of Civil Society to Safeguard Tombs 

Civil society groups are very strong and powerful in 
Pakistan. Many NGOs emerged during the Musharraf’s 
government (1999-2007) in Pakistan; some of them were 
directly concerned with heritage. In Karachi only, there 
are over a dozen such NGOs that work on heritage but all 
of them lack activism with respect to heritage 
sustainability and preservation of City Heritage. Civil 
society can act as a strong bulwark against the elements 
responsible for the neglect and decay of cultural heritage 
in Pakistan. It can actively raise a collective voice against 
the nefarious groups who have brought destruction and 
damage to Chaukhandi tombs. The following line of 
action can be taken by civil society to safeguard the 
Chaukhandi tombs. 

With the activism of NGOs, all truck garages can be 
removed to other part of the city because their presence is 
causing constant damage to the structures due to toxic 
emissions and other pollutants. 

There should be a coordinated effort by civil society 
of Karachi to be more loud and vocal against the 
dumping ground at Chaukhandi tombs. They should 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 135 

watchman who is on duty. As a result the tombs are being 
constantly damaged by these people. 

Another major threat to Chaukhandi tombs is from 
the construction of new tombs. A recent phenomenon 
that has come to limelight and is being practiced at the 
site is that if any Sindhi literary figure dies he/she would 
be buried in area comprising Chaukhandi graveyard. 
Two very eminent literary figures, Tajal Bewas and 
Shamsher ul Hyderi are now buried in this graveyard 
(Fig. 28). The proximity of these tombs has brought 
physical harm to the historical Chaukhandi tombs. 
Similarly, stone carved canopy of Jam Murad (Fig.29) 
was built close to an old canopy of Jokhia chief which 
has played havoc with the old tomb. All the construction 
material was dumped near the old canopy and its 
platform was used freely by the labour for resting 
leisurely, taking tea, lunch and even siesta. This damaged 
the canopy immensely and the decay has gone unnoticed 
to the authorities concerned. 

Environmental Threats 

Pollution levels in the city of Karachi had risen 
significantly over recent years as a result of unbridled 
growth in industry, traffic and population (Ilyas 2007). 
The Chaukhandi tombs are also facing problems from air 
pollution and industrial pollution that has affected 
Chaukhandi tombs the most. Emissions and other 
pollutants from factories north of the Chaukhandi tomb 
of Jam Murid are also affecting the Chaukhandi tombs 

The toxic emission from diesel and petrol vehicles 
has resulted in considerable harm to the Chaukhandi 
tombs. Many trucks and oil tankers are seen parked at 
garages which usually block the access to Chaukhandi 

38 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Sirhandi, Dhani Parto, Memon Goth, Daud Shoro and 
Danbaro villages protested vociferously against 
destruction of the precious heritage and the media 
immediately flashed the news thus bringing the issue to 
the center of public attention. The media personnel 
visited the Chaukhcmdi site physically and reported this 
issue of tomb destruction at the hands of Taliban. Later, 
Chaukhcmdi tomb of Jam Miran was restored with the 
help of local people and civil society organizations. This 
reflects how powerful, influential and vibrant civil 
society is in Karachi. 

Many NGOs working on heritage i.e Endowment 
Fund Trust for preservation of the Heritage of Sindh 
(EFT) and others are against any new construction in 
historical graveyard. They and other NGOs should 
continue to play pro-active role in safeguarding the 
historical monuments at Chaukhandi which are being 
environmentally damaged due to the building of new 
tombs at the Chaukhandi site. With their activation on 
different forums, the illegal activity can be stopped 

One can save many heritage sites including 
Chaukhandi tombs if NGO activism is vibrant in heritage 
sector in Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular. 
These NGOs are working on restoration, preservation and 
documentation of heritage. But what is more important to 
focus is the preservation of heritage not only from 
environmental but also from human threats. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 137 

demand that bajri (gravel) dumping ground should be 
moved immediately to other part of the city. Waste 
disposal should also be stopped and no more solid waste¬ 
burning be allowed in the vicinity of Chaukhandi tombs. 
All these deplorable activities cause environmental 
damage to the Chaukhandi tombs. 

Due to prevalent activation of civil society a strong 
voice should be raised against the illegal grave-diggers 
who steal bones from the graves for witchcraft. 
Concerted efforts are required to enlighten the culture and 
tourism department and urge the authorities concerned to 
complete the erection of the boundary wall which they 
started in 2012, on a fast footing. Despite frequent 
protests by the local people to save Chaukhandi tombs, 
no heed was paid to their voice. The government will 
take any serious note of its grave negligence only when 
civil society groups and especially print media highlight 
the issues in their respective newspapers. Once the 
boundary wall is erected, at least some of the illegal 
activities would be curtailed. 

Civil society is also very vocal against Taliban’s 
detestable activities in the country. Civil society 
organizations should also take a serious note of Taliban 
activities in Chaukhandi like the one they took in 2013 
against the destruction of a Chaukhandi tomb. At that 
time they took out processions to bring this issue to the 
forefront in media, so that no future incident with respect 
to destruction of tombs could ever take place. Civil 
society’s voice is instantly heard by the viewers and 
action plan can be developed by the respective 
governments to counter the anti state activities of the 
Taliban. When Talban destroyed the Chaukahndi of Jam 
Miran in 2013, the civil society organizations of 
Razaqabad, Pipri, Gharo towns and Jam village, Pir 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 39 


1. Hasan,Shaikh Khurshid. 1996 .Chaukhandi Tombs in 

Pakistan, Karachi: Royal Book Company. 

2. Kalhoro, Zulfiqar Ali. 2011. “Little Pyramids-the tombs of 
Burfats at Taung, Thana Bula Khan, Sindh”. Pakistan 
Historical Society L1X (4) 141-171. 

3. Ilyas, Syed Zafar.2007. “A Review of Transport and Urban 
Air Pollution in Pakistan”. J. Appl. Sci. Environ. Manage. 

4. Zajadacz -Hastenrath, Salome 2003 .Chaukhandi Tombs, 
Funerary Art in Sind and Baluchistan., trans. Michael 
Robertson: Karachi: Oxford University Press. 

42 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

appointed his sister Duhsala to rule over the Jats and 
Meds. Duhsala went to the new kingdom and took over 
charge of the country and cities of Sindh and in the 
process found that there were no Brahmans or wise men 
in this part of the country to help guide their fortunes. She 
therefore, wrote a long letter to her brother seeking 
assistance in this regard. The emperor assembled 30,000 
Brahmans from all over Hindustan and sent them, with all 
their goods and dependents to settle in Sindh (Lari 

There are references about the maltreatment meted 
out to Jats by Chach as clearly described in Chachnama, 
an ancient historical account on Sindh. According to 
Chachnama, Chach degraded the Jats and Luhanahs and 
placed restrictions over their chiefs. He took a hostage 
from amongst them and confined him in the fort of 
Brahmanabad. He imposed restrictions on these people of 
Jat and Luhanah tribes such as that they should not carry 
swords, except in case of urgent necessity, that their 
undergarments should be of some woolen cloth, that they 
should not wear velvet or silken cloth, that they might use 
scarfs of cotton thread of black or red colour, that they 
must ride horses without saddles, that they must walk 
bare-footed and bare-headed, that when going out of their 
houses, they must take dogs with them, that they must 
supply firewood to the ruler of Brahamanabad, that they 
serve him in the capacity of guides and spies, that if they 
distinguish themselves for these qualities, they would be 
considered trustworthy and honest, that they must live in 
harmony and co-operate with king Agham’s son Sarhand, 
and that if an enemy invaded the country, they should 
consider it their duty to stand by him and fight for him. 

Mayaram Shail states in his book “Against History 
and Against State” that the Meds and Jats were the two 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 141 

Jat Culture 


This article deals with the folklore of Jats including 
the information on Battle of Bungah, role of camel in the 
folktale of Sasui Punhun, depiction of camel in the sufi 
poetry and local or native perspective about who is Jat, 
myth about not selling camel milk and naming camels 
according to their age etc. It also comprises information 
about various camel breeds available in the village and 
camel marketing. Finally, it includes the data about out¬ 

History of Jats 

The Jats are an ancient tribe of Sindh. There are a 
number of references available in the historical accounts 
of Sindh pertaining to the Jats. According to Arab 
geographers, Jats and Meds the two main tribes of Sindh 
clashed with each other frequently. According to Sanskrit 
sources, when Sahsi II died in AD 652, Chach seized the 
throne and proclaimed himself king. The Jats and Meds 
were the two main tribes of Sindh at that time that had 
settled on the banks of the river and frequently fought 
with each as they had done in Medea till they finally 
realized the advantage of living in peace. They sent their 
chiefs to the Emperor Duryodhana of Hastanapur 
(Meerut) to beg him to appoint a king over them whose 
authority would be acceptable to both tribes. The emperor 

44 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

frequent clashes of Mids with the Muslim Kingdom of 
Mansura (Sindh).The Arabs, however, seem to have been 
unable to permanently repress the Mids. Expeditions 
against Mids and the Jats continued till A.D 844(ibid: 
20 ). 

Arab geographic-history written from the viewpoint 
of the sedentary state constructs the pastoral groups 
without any political order. What is understated in the 
narrative are vital details, for instance, the Jats and Mids 
are involved in the active commercial life of the Persian 
Gulf. The Chachnama, which castigates the Jats and other 
tribes as “detestable people”, highway robbers, thieves, 
pirates with wild nature of brutes, also mentions that they 
are employed in the armed forces of Sindian kings and as 
guides of caravans (ibid:21). 

According to Mayaram, the question of migration 
remains open and conjectural. It has been suggested that 
the Jats migrated from Indus valley in lower Sindh to 
northeast into Punjab and Multan, where they seem 
firmly established and sedentarized by early ll th century. 
Between 9 th and 1 l th centuries the Mid wandered along the 
banks of the Indus, Sindh, Kutch, and Kathiawar, 
reaching the frontiers of Makran. Both Jats and Mid were 
among the most important mobile and migratory 
population of this period. Arab geographers refer to their 
movement from Multan to the sea and across the desert. 
They formed a large population ‘unconverted to the 
faith’, who occupied pastures on the fringes of the desert 
and along the Indus, cultivating camels and goats (ibid: 
21 ). 

As regards their religious belief, A1 Biruni, an Arab 
geographer of 11 th century, states that the Jats worshipped 
the Lingam, the fertility symbol of one of the Hinduistic 
religious communities. Likewise, the Jats are called 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 143 

major migratory groups of northwestern India between 
the 7 th and 11 th centuries. Arab writers refer to clusters of 
these groups inhabiting the swamps, mountains, and 
deserts of Sindh, as the oldest inhabitants of Sindh, had 
divided the region among them and frequently fought 
each other. Arab sources suggest that the frequent Med 
and Jat raids on seaports and the maritime trade of the 
Persian Gulf and the western Indian Ocean caused the 
Arab conquest of Sindh. Gardizi describes the al-Mayd 
and the al-Zutt as sea pirates of the coastal region from 
Daybul (originally Debal) to Kathiawar. Daybul was then 
part of kingdom of Dahir, son of the Brahman ruler 
Chach. Muhammad bin Qasim, son-in-law of the 
governor of Iraq, invaded Sindh in A.D 711 when the 
Khalifa declared war against Sindh and Hind. Arab 
sources explain the conquest on grounds of protecting the 
commerce of the Persian Gulf against alleged piracy, an 
argument that scholars like Wink seem to accept 
(Mayaram 2003:19). 

Up to the mid-ninth century the governors of Sindh 
continued to raid the unsubdued areas of Sindh, took 
large numbers of prisoners as slaves and made inroads 
into transhumance. While certain groups of Jats 
compromised and were converted to Islam, the Meds 
concentrated in southeastern Sindh and persisted in their 
hostility. Jats were extended aman or immunity, after 
their submission and, they subsequently joined Arab 
armies and were deployed against the Mids. The Arabs 
killed three thousands Mids in an expedition and attacked 
their sources of water by constructing an embankment. 
With the help of Jat chiefs they brought sea water through 
a canal to their tank, making enemy’s water saline and 
also sent out marauding expeditions against them. During 
tenth and eleventh centuries there are references to 

46 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

collector during the British period, gives the list of Jat 
tribe inhabiting different parts of Sindh. According to 
him, the derivation of this word is unknown. Owning to 
the opening and extension of railway lines in Sindh, 
many settlers of Jats have disappeared and the number of 
camels has decreased (Ansari 1901:54-55). 


Folklore, like all other products of man’s artistic 
endeavour, is an ideological manifestation of human 
creativity. Folklore includes all myths, legends, folktales, 
ballads, riddles, proverbs and superstitions (Dundes 
1989). The term folklore was first coined by William J. 
Thomas in 1846. Like other elements of human culture, 
folklore is not merely the creation of chance. Folklore 
exists in time and space, and is current in people’s 
linguistic and social contacts, during the passage of years 
and accompanying historical change. 

The folktale is an important constituent of folklore. 
Even today, for the Jats, a folktale is one of the principle 
forms of entertainment. The culture of Jats abounds in 
folklore and folktales that dominate their daily 
discussions. Folktales of Jang Bungah (Battle of 
Bungah), Sassui-Punhun, Momal Rano, and Jatan ain 
Changan Jo Maro (The battle of Jats and Changs) are 
some tales which dominate the social life of Jats. They 
greatly eulogize the camels in these folktales. Amongst 
all these folktales, however, Battle of Bungah is more 
prominent and significant for the Jats because they were 
directly involved in that battle. This folktale is still 
narrated in many Jamali villages in district Matiari. The 
six Jats named Bhai Khan Jat, Miro Khan Jat, Bakho Jat, 
Umeed Ali Jat, Ali Bakhsh Jat and Nabi Dad Jat narrated 
this story. The story that they told me is as follows: 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 145 

Hindki, with a touch of belittlement, by the Pathan. In 
striking contrast to this, the Imperial Gazetteer states that 
Jat is a collective name for all Muslims in the Hinduistic 
society of Punjab. The same was maintained by some 
informants in Sindh, for whom before Partition, Jat was 
synonymous with Muslims in Sindh, but was abandoned 
in its meaning after the Partition, when Islam became the 
official religion. It would be misleading to deduce from 
these statements a definite religious belief, as all facts 
taken together show, on the contrary, that the Jats are 
geographically and culturally in an intermediate position 
between the Islamic countries west of the Indus and the 
equally pure Hinduistic countries east of the Indus. In this 
context the Sikhs must be counted as a Hinduistic 
community. This intermediate position gives the key to 
many conflicting statements about the Jat (Westphal- 
Hellbusch n.d: 48). 

As regards ethnic difference, it is written in the 
Gazetteer of Punjab that the Baloch and Pathan 
contemptuously called all people not belonging to their 
own tribes Jat, without any regard to caste or occupation. 
It is on the same level when Balochistan Gazetteer 
informs us that a distinction exists among the Jats 
themselves.” The camelmen and graziers among the 
Baloch are shown as a Jat clan within the tribe of same 
name, but their name is pronounced with a sofft’ as 
opposed to the hard ‘t’. These camelmen speak a different 
language to other Jats and many of their customs vary, 
but it has not been ascertained whether there is any real 
ethnical distinction. The tribesmen look upon the Jats as 
their social inferiors and this position is generally 
accepted by the Jat themselves (Westphal-Hellbusch 

Shaikh Sadik Ali Sher Ali Ansari, who was deputy 

48 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

accept the returned camels unless ‘Malhan’ was found 
and handed over to him. Sardar Ahmed Khan found the 
missing camel after tiresless efforts but also discovered at 
the same time that Malhan had been gifted to Siraj Katar 
Magsi. It was a tradition among the tribes that they used 
to distribute the stolen animals among the tribesmen. 
When asked to return Malhan, Siraj concocted a story 
saying that as ‘they were taking away the wag back to our 
village’ it died on way. 

Actually Malhan had not died. It was alive and it had 
been hidden somewhere. Still, he agreed to compensate 
for the loss. But the Sardar of Jamalis refused to accept 
the offer. At the same time as events unfolded, Siraj 
Katar Magsi was jealous of Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi’s 
popularity and valour among other Sardars. So, he 
wanted to make the situation worse intentionally. He 
endeavoured that both tribes should fight with each other. 
Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Khan Jamali began 
threatening the Sardar of Magsis that he would avenge 
the loss of his tribesmen and that of his animals. 

After the lapse of four or five months, Sardar Ahmed 
Khan Magsi had to travel to Lasbo Pat (plains) to settle a 
dispute that had erupted between two sections of Magsi 
tribe. Some people informed Ghulam Muhammad Jamali 
that Sardar Ahmed Khan had landed at Lasbo Pat and 
was engaged in convincing his tribes for military 
expeditions against Jamalis. Jamalis knew that Chandia 
tribe was also supporting the Magsi Sardar. Sensing 
danger, the Jamalis were ordered to get prepared for war 
against the Magsis. They marched against Magsis at the 
Otaq of Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi. The tribes clashed 
and a battle ensued. The Jamalis suffered a defeat and 
were forced to retreat. After the defeat Sardar Ghulam 
Muhammad Khan Jamali went directly to Shoran to ask 
for help from Sardar Sher Muhammad Khan Rind. But 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 147 

Battle of Bungah 

Camel lifting was widespread in Sindh and 
Balochistan in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The 
main objective of this robbery was to weaken the 
opposing tribe, politically and economically. In the past 
the numbers of livestock designated the status and 
position of individual or tribe in the society and culture of 
both the Baloch and Sindhis. 

The battle of Bungah started after Magsis indulged in 
camel rustling in Talpur Period (1783-1843). In 
retaliation, Jamalis (inhabitants of Chowki Jamali village 
in district Jaffarabad) also took the wag of Magsis. The 
hostility continued between the two tribes for quite a long 
time. They frequently clashed with each other over the 
issue of camel lifting. At that time Ghulam Muhammad 
Khan Jamali was the Sardar of the Jamalis while Ahmed 
Khan Magsi was the chieftain of his tribe. 

After the intervention of some Sardars of Baloch 
tribes, both agreed to end the hostilities, provided that 
compensations were made to each tribe, according to the 
casualties and the return of the stolen wag (herd of 
camels). Sardars of both tribes sat together to iron out 
their differences and estimated the casualties and the 
number of stolen wags. Each of the tribes suffered an 
equal number of casualties thus one issue was resolved 
amicabily. But as regards to the wag, Magsis had stolen 
more animals. Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Khan Jamali 
claimed the return of his wag, to which the other party 

When people of Jamali tribe took their wag back to 
Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Khan Jamali, he found one 
camel named ‘Malhan’ missing. He sent his tribesmen in 
search of ‘Malhan’. Simultaneously, he also sent a 
message to Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi that he would not 

50 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

issued threats. Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi again 
rushed to tell Sardar Wali Muhammad Chandio about 
these threats. Sardar Wali Muhammad promised to 
help him. And when things began to go from bad to 
worse, respective tribesmen were called for war. 

Troops of both Sardars met at Panjuk near the 
present town of Jhal Magsi and fought a pitched battle. 
The battle continued for several hours in which many 
soldiers from both sides were killed. During the battle 
Mir Slier Muhammad Khan Rind was also killed. When 
the news of his death spread and reached his tribesmen, 
the latter lost hope of continuing the war and began to 

The above story reflects socio-economic role of 
camels in the culture of Jats. This story is common and 
widespread among the Jats of central and upper Sindh. 
Apart from this story, there is another story popularly 
known as the folk love story of Sassui and Punhun. This 
story is also popular among the Jats of my locales of 
Digano Jamali and Bakhar Jamali (where I did field 
work for this paper). In this story, the Jats eulogize the 
role of the camel. 

Role of Camel in the Folktale of Sassui- Punhun 

According to people of Digano Jamali and Bakhar 
Jamali, Punhun was the son of Jam Ari who was the ruler 
of Kech Makran. The sons of Jam Ari were engaged in 
trade and used to take goods to Bambhore and from 
Bambhore they used to transport spices to Makran. Once, 
Punhun also went along his brothers to Bambhore. Here 
he saw a beautiful girl named Sassui. Punhun fell in love 
with her at first sight. Sassui was the daughter of a 
washermen. Punhun began working with this washermen. 
After some time he got married to Sassui in the town of 
Bambhore, lived with his wife and refused to return to his 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 149 

Sher Muhammad Rind had gone to Hyderabad to meet 
Mir Nur Muhammad Khan Talpur, the then ruler of 
Sindh. Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Khan then set out for 
Hyderabad where Mir Sher Muhammad Khan was 
staying at the palace of Mir Nur Muhammad Khan 
Talpur. Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Khan Jamali narrated 
the whole story about war and casualties that his tribe had 
suffered. On hearing this, Mir Sher Muhammad Khan 
Rind vowed to take revenge from the Magsis and sent 
message to the Sardar of Magsi tribe to prepare for war. 

Tribesmen from Jhangara Bajara in Dadu were 
conscripted. When the war party reached Dhari Bhangar 
near the present town of Kandhkot, the numbers of 
tribesmen exceeded well over 12000. When this news 
reached Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi, he rushed with his 
son Mehon Khan and nephew Gohram Khan to Sardar 
Wali Muhammad Khan Chandio for help. Sardar Wali 
Muhammad Khan pledged to help him. He said that he 
would first go to Sardar Sher Muhammad Rind for peace 
parleys; if he would accept it then we would not fight. If 
he would reject it then we would fight by your side.Wali 
Muhammad Khan Chandio sent one of his commanders, 
Ghazi Khan Chandio with Sardar Ahmed Khan Magsi to 
Mir Sher Muhammad Rind for peace talks. 

Ghazi Khan came to know that Sardar Sher 
Muhammad Khan Rind was staying in Garhi Rehman 
village with Sardar Raheem Khan Umrani. Ghazi 
Khan sent his message to the Sardar saying that he 
wanted to meet him and offer truce with Magsis. 
Sardar Sher Muhammad showed willingness and 
asked him to come to Shoran for a meeting. Ghazi 
Khan left for Shoran and met Sardar Sher Muhammad 
Khan Rind where his uncle Mir Bahrain Khan ensured 
him that he would not wage war against Magsis. But 
after some time, Sardar Sher Muhammad Khan again 

52 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

his camel without justifiable reason almost reducing the 
poor animal to pulp. After a few days, he realized that he 
had done something seriously wrong to his animal and he 
would get scared whenever he looked into the eyes of his 
camel. He shared this story of camel thrashing with his 
friends and relatives and that he felt nervous and 
frightened of such and such camel. 

Bagho Jat, along with his friends and relatives, used 
to take a consignment from his village to Johi. His village 
lies 50 kilometers from Johi. On way back to his village, 
almost always night fell at a place called Wahi Pandi. 
There they used to take rest and then continue their 
caravan to the village. In order to avert any misfortunate, 
Bagho Jat always fastened his camel with ropes at night. 

However, one night he fastened his camel in usual 
manner before going to sleep. He slept along with his 
friends and relatives in an abandoned building that lay on 
their way. After an hour or so the Jats, awakened by the 
shrieks of Bagho Jat, saw the camel ruthlessly mounted 
on top of Bagho Jat forcibly treading his body. It badly 
injured him and continued to hurt him through the 
constant movement of his front and hind legs. The friends 
rushed to Bagho Jat’s rescue and did everything possible 
to remove the outrageous camel but it was too late. The 
camel had badly mauled him and broken his skeletal 
stmcture beyond treatment. Bagho Jat could not survive 
and died instantly. Jats were terribly awestruck and 
wondered how could the camel get itself unfastened, 
identify his tormentor and kill him instantly. 

Apart from this incident Shazado and his tribesmen 
recounted two other stories in which a camel attempted to 
kill its owner. Both incidents took place in the Digano 
Jamali village. 

One day, Allahyar Jat thrashed his camel badly 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 151 

native place Kech Makran where his father Jam Ari was 
the ruler of Makran. 

When the news ofPunhun’s refusal to return to Kech 
reached Jam Ari, he got very disappointed to hear the 
news. But his other sons Hoto and Nato promised their 
father that they would bring Punhun back to Kech. 

The brothers of Punhun set out for Bambhore. When 
they reached the town they enquired about washerman 
and reached his house and met Punhun. They persuaded 
Punhun to return to Kech but he refused. One night, 
brothers of Punhun intoxicated him and his wife and took 
him away on the camel’s back to Kech. When Sassui 
awoke in the morning, she found Punhun missing. She 
began crying bitterly and chased them following the 
footprints of camel and camelmen. First, she cursed the 
camelmen (Jats) and camels (Uthah). Later on she gave 
her blessings to camel and camelmen without whom 
Punhun might have encountered problems in walking 
down to Kech Makran. 

Camel never forgets the beating 

The camel has a long memory of taking revenge on 
those who have done it any harm; it will never forget 
violent treatment and will wait for the appropriate time 
for taking its vengeance. To describe people who can not 
forgive and reconcile, Jats say they have a camel’s 

There are a number of cases in which camel has done 
harm to people. I quote three examples here respectively 
in which camel attacked its owners killing one person and 
leaving two seriously injured. Four Jats namely Shazado, 
Rasool Bakhsh, Qurban and Murad narrated the story. 
According to them, Bagho Jat who was the inhabitant of 
Kacho area of Dadu, one day inflicted painful blows to 

54 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

fascinating indigenous knowledge system which is very 
prominent and viable in everyday social life of Jats. They 
have developed an interesting system to rein in the wild 
camels. During the breeding season, which falls in the 
November and December, camels get wild and it is 
difficult to control them. They become so unruly that they 
sometimes harm their handlers very badly. A number of 
incidents have taken place in the village of Digano Jamali 
in which camels have bitten many people and devoured 
their arm or some other limb. 

Jats never strike the camels when they are wild; 
rather they make the camels smoke and this helps them to 
remain calm and cool. For this purpose only wild camels 
are chosen and made to smoke and not every camel. 
What Jats do is that they blow the puffs of a cigarette into 
the nostrils of camels. By doing it repeatedly the camel 
slowly and gradually begins to enjoy the flavor of the 
puff. If a camel shows his dislike to the plain puffs of a 
cigarette, Jats push hashish filled puffs into the nostrils of 
camel. Once the camel inhales these puffs it becomes 
calm and his anger turns into sedation. 

With the passage of time, the camel becomes so 
habitual and addicted to this practice that whenever it 
sees a person smoking nearby, it rushes to him as if 
demanding a cigarette puff. People often get frightened to 
see camel approaching as if to harm them. However, their 
fright ends when the camel touches their cigarette only. 
They figure out that the camel needs puffs. 

Leadership and Ego among Camels 

Like human beings, young camels also give due 
respect to adult and older camels. The older camel always 
leads the rest of camels. The younger camel in the 
presence of older one never tries to surge ahead of the 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 153 

because it began to avoid the load on its back and created 
problems for Allahyar. One evening as Allahyar returned 
from work, he took his club ( dando ) and began beating 
camel bitterly. After giving a good beating to the camel, 
Allahyar left. He returned home at night and went to bed 
after taking his dinner. He was sleeping on a cot in his 
courtyard when camel attacked Allahyar and devoured 
his arm. His family members awoke on his screaming and 
saved his life. 

In the last example, a camel attacked its owner and 
greedily ate away his arm. Shazado and his tribesmen 
recalled that Abdullah Jat had badly beaten his camel 
some days back. Camel chose the appropriate time and 
attacked its owner. As soon as the camel mounted on 
Abdullah, he began shouting vehemently. The family 
members rushed to the spot to save him but the camel had 
already eaten away the arm of his prey. 

As reflected in the above examples, the camel never 
forgets the torture or ill-treatment meted out to him and 
waits for the right moment to attack and take revenge. Its 
manner of attack is very dangerous and sudden. The 
camel always mounts on its enemy and thrusts it’s both 
knees on the chest of the person and begins a swaying 
movement that does not give any chance of reprieve to 
the victim to get out camel’s clutches. This movement 
breaks the bones of the person being avenged. Therefore, 
Jat always avoids beating a camel. They know that if they 
beat him bitterly, it may take vengeance sooner or later. If 
the camel is beaten before the other camels, it feels his 
disrespect. In order to regain its respect it takes revenge 
in a cold blooded manner. 

Making the Camel Smoke 

The culture of Jats is very interesting. They have a 

56 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

The following are some of the couplets that Jats rendered 
before me: 

1. Camels, Punhoon’s brothers and mountains gave me 

All these discomforts for Beloved’s union, I 
considered comforts. 

2.1 bear suffering given to me by camels, brothers-in-law 
and rocks 

It is encumbent on me to seek Punhoon’s tracks and 

Who would the waste land otherwise cross, if not so 

3. The day you saw alien camels in your yard, Sasui, you 
should have, 

Till dawn blocked their path 

Using your hair braid like a chain, camels you should 
have fastened 

Then your love, Punhoon, they would not have thus 

5. The day you saw alien camels in your yard, 

You should have hidden the keys of the locks 

You would have been taken care of, the following 


6. Camels are wont to groan, they were quiet at my 

The subdued ones raised no sound at the start, 

Some secret agreement between these and those there 


It is not Punhoon’s brothers’ doing but my 
unfavourable fate, 

Time and tide are not subservient to camels and their 

How can destiny be opposed by this insignificant 

7. Bring not the camels nigh, for they have brought me 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 155 

leader. If the younger camel tries to go ahead, the Jat 
immediately notices the extra agility of that camel and 
cries “get behind or go behind (Poeti thi or Poeti wanj). 
Camel listens and understands owner’s call, slows down 
its strides and immediately goes behind. Jats always try to 
make the camel follow the rules. During the grazing time, 
younger camel never approaches the same meadow or 
leaf tree where the older or adult camel is already present. 
If the younger camel draws closer to the same tree and 
teases the adult camel, the Jat calls out camel’s names 
loudly in order to keep him away from the senior lot. If 
the Jat observes that younger camel has made a habit of 
teasing the adult and older camels, he fastens the younger 
camel with ropes and gives him a hard spanking before 
the camels to whom he has been a cause of nuisance. 
After that beating, the younger camel never makes fun of 
the adult camels. 

The adult camel refrains from fighting with the 
younger camel even if the latter continues teasing the 
adult camel. However, it stops grazing and playing with 
other camels. This makes the owner worried and he 
begins observing his activity and finally finds out that it 
is due to the mischief of the younger camels and the older 
camels stop grazing in protest. As mentioned earlier, in 
order to regain its respect and ego, owner beats the 
younger camel before the adult or older camel. 

Depiction of Camel in the Sufi Poetry 

The Jats of Digano Jamali narrate a number of poems 
representing the role of camels from the Shah Jo Risalo. 
The Jats remember the poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai 
by heart. 

They recite the poetry from the Sur Desi (The native) 
of the Risalo. This sur deals with woeful story of Sasui. 

58 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 


Difficult paths in which full grown camels alone can 

There the maid with courage and faith intends to go. 

13. From Kech came the caravan in grand arrary, 

Camels’ necks adorned with trappings and flowers’ 


If you take me along, I will be your slave. 

14. The guests brought best of camels to their resting place, 
Like a falcon in its claws, they Punhoon snatched, 
Merciless Punhoon left me to lament while I slept. 

15. They rested before they went, their camels did groan, 
Camels, kept away, the credit to them goes, 

Start your journey today and reach them as fast as you 


These were some of the poems that Jats shared with 
me. In one of the poems, one finds the mention of camel 
according to age and their knowledge of the different 
paths at the same time. The camel is the symbol of 
separation as reflected in the above mentioned poetry. In 
almost every other poem one finds Sasui complaining 
about the camels and camel riders who took his beloved 
Punhoon away to Kech. 

Camel Milk 

The Jats never sell the camel milk, rather it is self- 
consumed. There exists myth amongst Jats about not 
selling camel milk. They confided that Sassui had cursed 
us and our camels. She had said “Oh Jat, whenever you 
churn camel milk, camel would die”. Therefore we don’t 
sell camel milk lest our enemies churn the milk and if 
they do our camel will die. Not a single camel has ever 
died of churning camel milk as told by some Jats. Camel 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 157 


Whip those accused ones and far away from me drive 

For only recently they took with themselves my 
Punhoon away. 

8. The camel riders reached their land, yet in my heart 
they dwell, 

Movement of camels with paws like four feet gives me 


These dumb creatutes’ silence brought me to the 

9. May the dust not rise from the path to settle on my 

May the strong sun not disturb the camel on which he 

Oh Punhoon! You should not treat me thus, you so. 

10. The camel riders left, playing a great fraud, 

Punhoon’s fragrance from every tree towards me 


Journeying to my love if beasts eat my flesh, my 
bones will still walk. 

11. Camels, camel riders and brothers-in-law were my foes, 
Fourth enemy is the wind that erased Punhoon’s 


Fifth enemy became the sun that soon set, 

Sixth enemy the mountain that straightened not its 

Seventh enemy the moon that rose not apace, 

I stride fast through the hard rocks at eve, when birds 
are back. 

12. Paths where tally camels’ going is hard 
Passes where colts cannot go, she intends to pass 
Paths of which older camels may have knowledge to 

60 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Bhural (of white complexion) 

Muhan/Bouth Wado (of long face) 

Dighi Ghech Waro (of long Neck) 

Nandi Ghech Waro (of short neck) 

Bujar (of hairy body) 

Nachno (Dancer) 

Bajhano (racer) 

Muhando (having good features) 

Sanero (Thin and lanky) 

Dilbar (Loving) 

Camel names according to age 

The Jats have different name for calf as it grows each 

year it takes on a new Sindhi name. 

















At the age of seven a camel becomes an adult. The 
approximate age of camel is 25 years. 

Camel Breeds 

There are about five camel breeds found in Sindh 
province. The description of these is as follows: 

Tharelo: This breed of camel is found in Thar. 
People go to Thar for buying this camel. This camel does 
not have a massive body and is short in height. People of 
Bakhar Jamali mostly use them in camel carts. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 159 

milk is not churned rather it is blended in a Mashk. 
Mashk looks like a grain sack and is made of animal hide. 

Who is Jat? A native perspective 

There are many theories prevalent in Bakhar Jamali 
about the Jats. Jats believe that anybody who tends and 
breeds camel is called Jat. To put it differently, anybody 
who takes the bridle of camel is called Jat. Apart from 
this, some Jats hold that Jat is name of caste, it is not a 
profession. According to Bhai Khan, Shamsoo (Shams-u- 
dddin) Jat, Ghulamoo (Ghulam Ali) Jat and Gelo Jat, Jats 
living near the Koski (Badin) do not breed the camel. 
However, they tend the buffaloes. These Jats also live in 
many villages of Badin and Thatta. 

Camel Names 

It is common for Jats to name their camels. The Jats 
take two things into consideration while naming their 
camels, first, they observe the behaviour of camel to see 
how it runs, walks and works etc and second, they 
examine the characteristics of camels for example one 
with long neck, or short legs etc. All this exercise is 
done to identify each and every camel. Some of the 
names which are commonly used are as follows: 

Marvi (Heroine of folktale of Umar-Marvi) 

Moomal (Heroine of folktale of Moomal Rano) 

Sassui (Heroine of Folktale of Sassui-Punhun) 

Garib (not wild) 

Dengo (Wild) 

Wehro (Wild) 

Faqir (easy to ride and graze) 

Mast (intoxicated) 

Karero (of black complexion) 

62 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Camel Marketing 

Camels are marketed in different areas of Sindh on 
weekly, monthly or annual basis. Two most famous 
camel markets in the country are held in Sindh province, 
one at Sajjan Sawai in Badin district for general livestock 
and the other at Oderolal which is exclusively for camles. 
Apart from this, three other camel fairs are held in Hala, 
Moro, Talhar and Islamkot respectively. A monthly 
Camel fair is held in Hala and people come from far 
flung areas of Sindh to sell and purchase camels. A 
weekly camel fair is held in Moro, Talhar and Islamkot. 
People from neghbouring areas attend these camel fairs in 
large number to buy and sell their animals. 

The prices of camels are assessed depending upon 
their breed, type, utility, phenotypic appearances etc. In 
addition to this the interested buyers also take into 
account the decoration and adornment of the camel while 
buying the camels as the decorative camel has more 
economic value. People prefer to buy decorated camels 
very fondly. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 161 

Sindhi or Larri: This breed of camel is found in 
lower Sindh and is reared by Rebaris from whom people 
buy them. This camel is very speedy, runs at brisk pace 
and is used in camel racing. Larri camel has a massive 
body and a very beautiful look as compared to other 
breeds. . 

Kohistani or Jabaloo: This breed of camel is found 
in hilly areas of Dadu, Larkana, Jamshoro and Karachi. 

Dahati: This camel is found in the area of Dahat in 
Thar. The Dahati camel is famous for its brisk walk and 
speed. Many myths are prevalent in Thar about the speed 
of Dahati camel prominent among which is the folk love 
tale of Momal Rano. The legend has it that Momal was 
the daughter of King of Kak Mahal which was then 
located near the town of Jaislmer in India. Rano was 
friend of Hamir Sommro who was the King of Umarkot. 
Rano belonged to Mendro tribe which was then the 
powerful tribe in lower Sindh and Tharparkar. Rano had 
heard stories of beauty of Momal. One day he went to see 
her in Kak Mahal. Rano was very well-built and 
handsome person. As Momal saw Rano, she fell in love 
with him at first sight. Later, Rano frequently went to 
meet Moomal in Kak Mahal. He was so much engrossed 
in his pursuit for Momal that he would always travel to 
Kak Mahal at night and return to Umarkot before the 
sunrise. Kak Mahal lay 200 kilometers from Umarkot. 
People eulogize the Dahati camel by narrating this story 
to every one. They narrate with fascination and pride the 
briskness and fastness of the Dahati camel. 

Sakro or Sakrai: This breed of camel is found in the 
coastal areas of Sindh. 

All the breeds of camel found in Bakhar Jamali are used 
for different purposes i.e. riding, racing, transportation 
and dancing etc. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 63 


16. Abdul Quddus, Syed.1992 .Sindh: the land of Indus 
civilization. Karachi: Royal Book Company. 

17. Burton, Richard F. 1993 .Sindh Revisited (two vols bound in 
one). Karachi: Department of culture and tourism, 
Government of Sindh 

18. Dundes, Alan. 1989. Folklore Matters. University of 
Tennessee Press. 

19. Lambrick, H.T. 1975. Sindh: A general introduction. 
Hyderabad: Sindhi Adabi Board. 

20. Lari, Suhail Zaheer. 1994. A History of Sindh. Karachi: 
Oxford University Press. 

21. Mayaram, Shail. 2003. Against History, Against State: 
Counterperspective from the Margins. New Delhi: 
Permanent Black. 

22. Postans, Marianne. 2003. Travels, Tales, and Encounters in 
Sindh and Baluchistan 1840-1843, Karachi: Oxford 
University Press. 

23. Westphal-Hellbusch, Dr.Srigid and Westphal, 
Dr.Heinz.(n.d.).77?e Jat of Pakistan. Islamabad: Lok Versa 
Publishing House. 

66 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Mahaars (bridles) and others purchase from the markets 
or from fellow Jats. The price of Mahaar ranges from 
Rs.100 to Rs.1000 depending on the quality of a bridle. 
The decorative bridle costs more than Rs. 200. Simple 
bridle costs Rs.50-100. The Jats decorate the bridle with 
colourful suspending flannels or tassels. They also give 
these bridles as gifts to their friends. 

Most of the Jats make bridles to sell and earn a 
considerable amount of money. One of the famous bridle 
makers Jogi Jat earns 1500 to 2000 thousand per month. 
He is the only person in the family who makes bridles. 
He believes that if there are two skilled persons in the 
family they earn more than three thousand per month 
from making bridles. 

Camel Necklace (Gorband) 

This is the necklace of the camel which is decorated 
with multi-coloured tufts. Almost every Jat in the village 
has gorband for his camel. Most of Jats make gorband to 
sell in the market. A good decorative gorband costs more 
than one thousand. 

Camel Garland (Ganee) 

Jats also decorate their camels with colourful 
garlands. There are two types of garlands that Jats make. 
One is a simple and the other is decorative. The 
decorative ganee is full of beads. This type of ganee is 
locally known as ‘Motin Wari Ganee’ (a beaded garland). 
The price of beaded garland ranges from 300 to 500. 
Usually, three or five beaded garlands are put around the 
neck of a camel, whereas number of beads in simple 
garlands range from seven to ten (Fig. 32). 

Beaded garlands are sold either in the market or to 
fellow Jats. Both men and women are skilled in making 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 165 

Camel Art 


This article is based on my fieldwork conducted in 
Bakhar and Digano Jamali villages in Saeedpur taluka of 
Matiari District. The article deals with the camel art 
which includes decorative ornaments (Saz) and pleasing 
patterns created on the body of a camel (Chit). It also 
discusses camel brands (Dag) and camel riding, racing 
and dancing. The information on the role of artists in the 
community of Jats, depiction of geographical symbols on 
the body of a camel, colour symbolism, beauty 
competition and innovation has also been discussed in the 

Decorative Ornaments (Saz) 

There are various decorative ornaments that are put 
on the camel. Locally, these decorative ornaments are 
known as Saz (Fig.31). The details of various ornaments 
that the Jats put on their camels are as follows. 

Camel Bridle (Mahaar) 

It is sort of a thin rope, or string which is tied around 
the mouth and through the nose of camel to control its 
steering. Camel bridles get special treatment in the 
community of the Jats. Camel bridle is woven by hand 
except the part which is attached to the head which is 
made of leather. Jats make a beautiful Mahaars (Bridles) 
which steers the direction of the camel. Some Jats make 

68 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 


The camel knee cover is always decorated with 
geometric designs. The popular geometric designs that 
are employed are swastika , cross locally called Madhani, 
triangle ( trikundo ), rectangular (mustatel) square ( choki 
or choras ) zig-zag, ( warwakar ) star (taro) etc which have 
apparently been inspired from Relli (patchwork). 
Actually, these designs are popularly used on Relli from 
where artists take the inspiration. 

Camel Cover or blanket (Jhull) 

Jats cover the body of their camels with colourful 
jhulls. There are two types of jhulls that Jats use for their 
camels. One is simple made of textile cloth and the other 
is embroidered jhull. Most of the Jats use simple 
colourful jhulls to decorate their camels. A few Jats put 
embroiderd jhulls on their camels. Jats rarely buy jhulls 
from the market rather they make these at home. 
However, embroidered jhulls are sold in markets from 
where Jats purchase them. Nowadays, embroidered jhulls 
are no more in vogue. In the former times, camels were 
adorned with embroidered jhulls at the wedding 
ceremonies and other festivities. The designs that are 
made on the jhulls vary from tribe to tribe. One can easily 
identify the tribe that has made the jhull by looking at the 
designs. So, motifs create the identity of the maker of the 
jhulls. Hindus of Tharparkar also use colourful jhulls for 
their camels (Fig.33). 

Camel face pendant: (Morr) 

Morr is also put on the camel. Many Jats still use 
morr for their camels. They put the morr on the camel on 
special events like Eid. Camels are also decorated with 
face pendant when these are taken to camel fairs for 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 167 

the beaded garlands. Beaded garlands are also used to 
decorate their camels by the Jat community in Badin. 
Jats of Badin profusely adore beaded garlands. 

Camel Neck Band: (Gachi Wari Pati) 

A Jat likes to adorn his camels with neck bands. 
There are three types of camel neck bands found on the 
camels of Jats, un-decorated, beaded and decorated. 
Every Jat in the village of Digano Jamali decorates his 
camels with un-decorated neck bands. The undecorated 
neck bands lack ornamentation. But the colours make un- 
decorated bands more attractive. The Jats intentionally 
use loud colours to make neck band. 

A few camels are bedecked with decorated neck 
bands. Locally, decorated neck bands are called 
Seengarial Pati or Bar at Wari Pati (an embroidered neck 
band). The only line of difference that one can draw 
between decorated and embroidered neck bands is a 
flannel or tassel locally known as thalia. The decorated 
neck bands sometimes carry flannels whereas 
embroidered neck bands don’t have flannels. 

A beaded neck band occupies a very important place 
among the Jats of Digano Jamali. A few camels are 
adorned with beaded camels especially those which are 
taken for dancing, riding and racing. Camels which are 
taken to camel fairs are also decorated with beaded neck 

Camel Knee cover: (Gode Dakani) 

The Jats use decorated knee cover for their camels. 
Only the Jats of Digano Jamali adorn their camels with 
gode dakani (Camel knee cover). It is not found in the 
neighbouring villages of Jats. In former times, Jats of the 
neighbouring villages also used to make camel knee 

70 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

or runs. 

Plann (Wooden frame) 

A plann is placed over the camel either for sitting or 
placing luggage. The front and back of the plann is 
always decorated with embroidery in combination with 

Kajawo (Wooden Frame) 

Kajawo is always made of wood. It is placed over the 
camel for sitting. Kajawo is different from plann in the 
sense that it is only used for sitting and not for keeping 
the luggage much larger than plann. It is always adorned 
with embroidery and mirrors. Kajawo is locally available 
in every Jat village. The price of Kajawo ranges from 
Rs.1000 to 3000 depending upon the quality and 

Bell (Charo) 

The bells are highly important artifacts in the 
material culture of Jats. Jats put a bell on almost every 
camel. The ringing of bells produces very rhythmic 
sound. According to local perspective, movement of 
camel is gauged by the ringing of the bells. The sound of 
every bell is different from the other. Jats recognize the 
name of the camel by the ring tone of bells. 

When it comes to bells, the emphasis is not on the 
perception of the bells but rather on its production. 
Children are also urged by their fathers to learn about 
their family bells and their history, and feel proud of 
them. Bells symbolize different elements of male 
identity, operating as symbols of masculinity; pastoralism 
and patriline. The circulation of bells through the male 
line across generations is related to local ideas of cultural 
continuity and the reproduction of social order. That is 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 169 

Camel headdress: (mathe dak) 

Jats use headdresses for their camels fondly (Fig 34). 
Almost every Jat in the village has a headdress for his 
camel. They invariably decorate the camel with headdress 
when they go riding. Apart from this, they also adorn the 
camel with headdress during the dance competition. 

The headdresses are made by Jats at home and are 
also sold in markets. Moreover, they also give as gift to 
their fellow Jats. Each headdress costs between Rs.500 to 
1000 . 

Camel Relhi (Patchwork applique) 

Rellis is also an important ornament of a camel 
which is placed either over plann or behind it. Most 
beautiful Rellis are used by Jats. These Rellis carry most 
interesting and amazing designs. However, geometric and 
pictorial designs predominate. 

Chest Band (seeni wari pati) 

There are two types of chest bands that are used by 
Jats. One is decorated and other is simple. A decorated 
band is always embroidered whereas simple band lacks 
ornamentation. Besides, leather band is also used. 

Pack Band (saman ji badhan wari pati) 

These days, no decorated pack bands are used. In 
former times, these were in vogue. Nowadays, ropes have 
replaced the decorated pack bands. 

Camel ankle rings (keruyun) 

The Jats also adorn their camels with ankle rings 
which are made of silver. Almost every Jat in the village 
put keruyun (ankle rings) around camels’ ankles. These 
keruyun produce very rhythmic sound when camel walks 

72 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

knowledge about the flowers that they make on the camel 
coat. Apart from lotus flower (Paban jo Gul) and Sun 
flower (Suraj Mukhi), all other flowers are identified by 
the number of leaves (pan). The following flowers are 
made on camel coat. 

The lotus is the favourite flower of Jats. On almost 
every camel this flower is found. This flower is a symbol 
of purity and beauty for Jats. The rellis made by Jats also 
carry the designs of lotus in a variety of forms. Their 
dwellings are also sometimes painted with lotus. 

Apart from lotus, the patterns of sunflower are also 
created on camel. There is no hard and fast rule that 
follows the space principles. The artist makes sunflower 
pattern wherever he wishes to create. Likewise, there is 
no a relationship between specific space and design. 
Sometimes, sunflower pattern is made below the hump 
and sometimes on the belly. However, the artist is more 
careful about the symmetry. 

Flower with four leaves (Char petin or panan waro 
gul) is also made. Flower with eight leaves (ath panan 
waro gul) is more commonly used. In addition to this, 
creeper designs are made as well. Besides, floral designs 
one can also see the pattern of a butterfly on the camel 

Above-mentioned flowers are patterned on camel 
coat by Jats in the villages of Digano Jamali and Bakhar 

Apart from floral designs one can also find some 
geometric designs on the camel coat prominent amongst 
which are cross, triangle, rectangle and square. 

As far as inspiration is concerned, it has come from 
different directions. They have taken most of inspiration 
from their rellis (patchwork applique). They imitated 
designs from rellis. Apart from this, they have also taken 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh | 71 

why bells are invaluable possessions. Some villagers 
maintained that bells were their gold and jewels. The 
quantity and quality of a camel’s bells signal their power 
and honour. Every camelman has to protect them, in 
order to protect his name as a good camelman and a real 

Patterns (Chitt) on Camel Skin 

The attachment of Jats to their camels can be seen in 
terms of mesmerizing designs made on the body of 
camels that are captivatingly remarkable (Fig.35). The 
hair cut on the camel is so beautifully that it virtually 
looks like a piece of art. From a distance, it looks that a 
relli, patchwork applique, is placed on the camel. But 
when it approaches, one stands still to thoroughly mull 
over the designs that are interestingly fashioned (Fig.36). 

The practice of making patterns on the body of a 
camel is common in and around the village of Digano 
Jamali. The whole body of the camel, including neck and 
tail is skilfully patterned. Mostly camels that have more 
hair are opted for creating patterns, while others are 
decked out with colourful cloths and trappings. The 
scissors is the only instrument that is used for making 
amazing patterns on the body of a camel. Jats begin to 
create patterns on the camel either in the last week of 
February or in the first week of March. In these months, 
weather in the village begins to get pleasant which is 
ideal for making patterns. 

Floral designs are commonly created on the body of 
the camel. In former times, pictorial designs were also in 
vogue. The designs of birds notably peacock, parrots, 
sparrow were fondly created. In the past two decades Jats 
have stopped making these designs. However, they 
preferably use floral designs on camel coat. Jats have full 

74 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

symbol of status. Nowadays, few people in the village 
and beyond use the camel for riding. 

Camel Racing 

Camel racing is a major source of entertainment for 
the Jats of New Saeedabad. Camel racing is held mostly 
on the eve of festivals. Besides, Jats also arrange monthly 
camel racing in which betting is also done. People keep 
two things in mind while betting on the camel racing. 
First, they assess the previous record of that camel to 
check the number of races it has won and second, they 
enquire about the the rider of the camel. Generally, the 
betting runs into hundreds and thousands but does not 
exceed lacs. There is only one example in which one Jat 
betted more than one lac on his camel and won that race. 

Camel racing is a test for young Jats who 
demonstrate their masculinity in the race. If he wins the 
race, he constructs his masculinity. His victory in the race 
transforms him into a responsible adult who can take 
good care of his father’s profession. Through this victory, 
he gets new identity in the community of Jats. Family 
lavishly celebrates his victory. A feast invariably follows 
in which relatives from far-flung areas are invited to 
celebrate the event. He puts on very costly dress on this 
occasion. Afterwards, he enjoys a very prestigious 
position in the community. 

If the Jat loses the race, he loses his honour. In order 
to regain his and his family’s honour, he makes serious 
preparation the whole year to win the race. The father or 
distant relatives train the young Jat for the race. Either the 
relative comes to young Jat’s village or the latter travels 
to relative’s village to get training. He stays there for a 
month or so before the camel racing. Sometimes, the 
father of camel rider pays the trainer either in kind or 
cash. If the trainee wins the race, first and foremost, he 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 173 

inspiration from the necropolis of Talpurs located at 
Khudabad. Khudabad was once the capital of Sindh 
during the rules of Kalhora and Talpurs respectively. The 
dilapidated and deserted town of Khudabad is located 
about three km southwest of New Hala. There exist 
beautiful mausoleum and stone carved tombs famous for 
their superb craftsmanship. So, Jats have been greatly 
inspired from the designs which had been made on the 
stone carved graves. The similar designs are also made 
on the camel. 

Some inspiration also comes from glazed pottery 
makers of Hala. Jats have daily interaction with these 
craftsmen and observe the designs that are made on the 
ceramics. They make similar designs on their camels, 
once they observe the ceramics of Hala. 

Apart from Bakhar and Digano Jamali village, the 
practice of creating patterns on camel coat is popular 
everywhere in Sindh. During the Eid-ul- Azha, people 
from different villages in Sindh take their decorated 
camels to camel market in Karachi where they are sold. 
The owners of the camels create beautiful designs to 
attract the customers (Figs 37, 38 and 39). 

Camel Riding 

Camel is also used for riding in the village (Fig.40). 
Many older Jats still do camel riding. They avoid using 
modern means of transport and rely on traditional means 
of transport. If they have to go to a nearby village to meet 
their relatives, they prefer to go riding a camel. In the 
morning, older Jats ride a camel to neighbouring town to 
purchase the items of daily use. 

In the former times, the landlords of the village were 
very fond of camel riding and preferably rode on 
lavishly decorated camel which was then considered a 

76 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

the tune of popular music. There is a lot of hustle bustle 
during the camel dancing. The owners of the camels 
bring their camels lavishly adorned with decorative 
ornaments and eye-catching patterns to the Festivals. 

The riders enjoy a very important and prestigious 
position in the culture of Jats. They are very influential 
persons in the community. Jats take their advice in almost 
all matters relating to the camels dancing. 

An award ( inam ) is given to the owner of best 
dancing camel at the end of the dance competition. 
People always congratulate the winner who sometimes 
invites the friends to his village to celebrate the victory. 
Most of the Jats hire riders for camel dancing and pay 
them handsome amount. The numbers of Jats who ride 
themselves and make the camel dance are very few. 

Patterns of Identity 

Jats almost know the origin of every design on the 
body of a camel. Each of the design is identified with 
place of origin, for instance Larri gul is the name of 
flower that has been brought from the area of Larr that is 
Badin and Thatta. Similarly, Pai Gul is the design that has 
been brought from the village in Dadu. Apart from these, 
Parkari, Tharelo, Kachelo, Narai, Kohistani designs are 
commonly used by the Jats of Digano Jamali. 

Parkari design consists of various flowers and 
creepers that grow in the area of Nagarparkar and that is 
how the design got its name. People of Nagarparkar 
create various designs on the body of camel. The generic 
term for the designs that are common in the areas of 
Nagarparkar is known as Parkari. 

Various designs that people of Thar make on the 
bodies of their camels are popularly known as Tharelo. 
Mostly the tribes that inhabit the areas of Islamkot, 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 175 

would pay regards to his teacher. 

There are many popular shrines in Sindh where 
camel racing is held at the time of the Mela. Apart from 
the camel racing, horse, donkey and bull racing are also 
held. However, camel racing being prominent among 
these is held at the following shrines. 

• Shrine of Oderolal in Hyderabad 

• Shrine of Sajan Sawai in Badin 

• Shrine of Muhammad Shah in Matiari 

• Shrine of Baloo Faqir Rind in Nawabshah 

• Shrine of Hoat Faqir Rind in Sanghar 

• Shrine of Mian Nasir Muhammad in Dadu 

• Shrine of Gaji Shah in Dadu 

• Shrine of Bahleel Shah in Dadu 

• Shrine of Mian Yar Muhammad in Dadu 

• Shrine of Allah Dad Faqir Lund in Dadu 

• Shrine of Null Hothiani in Matiari 

• Shrine of Jaral Shah Matiari 

• Shrine of Yousaf Shah in Matiari 

• Shrine of Pir Bilawali in Matiari 

• Shrine of Rukunddin in Matiari 

• Shrine Wali Muhammad Khan Leghari in Tando 

• Shrine of Bukera Sharif in Tando Allahyar 

• Shrine of Ismail Qadri in Tando Muhammad Khan 

• Shrine of Shah Turial alias Tajuddin in Badin 

• Shrine of Razi Shah in Mithi 

Camel Dancing 

Camel dancing is also a very important and colourful 
event during the Melas (Festivals). People come from far 
flung areas to participate in this event. Famous and 
renowned riders make the camel dance in the Melas to 

78 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

brightly coloured dresses. The traditional Jats who are 
engaged in the occupation of camel breeding still wear 
dresses that give colourful look. The schemes of colours 
that exist in the Jat culture are red, black, green and blue. 

Jats are equally choosy for their camels when it 
comes to colours. They put very colourful clothes on their 
camels. They have a very interesting system of colours 
that they have worked out for their camels. Red is the 
favourite colour of Jats for their camels. This colour 
resembles blood and therefore is the symbol of life, 
happiness, transformation and nostalgia. One of the Jats 
commented that he always puts on the red jhull (blanket) 
and other ornaments on his camel because red is symbol 
of nostalgia for him. Whenever, he saw red colour, he 
recalled his first night of marriage. At the first night of 
marriage his wife was wearing red wedding dress. 

The Jats usually put red jhull over the young male 
camel. According to them, the red colour makes the 
camel more beautiful and attractive whereas the female 
camel is adorned with jhull of the green colour. The 
green colour is a symbol of fertility and prosperity for the 
Jats. White colour is always opted for the older camels. 
White is the symbol of tranquility and peace for the Jats. 

The blue and black jhulls and other accessories are 
put on any time or during some event but there is no fixed 
period or pre-fixed event. Black jhull is, sometimes, is 
tied to the camel to ward off the evil spirits. 

Beauty Competition 

An annual competition of decorated camels is also 
held in which Jats from far-flung areas come to attend the 
event. This competition is held in the village of 
Muhammad Shah in the Aderi Belo area of Nawabshah 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1 77 

Chhachro, Mithi, Umarkot, Khipro and Veejhiar, use 
Tharelo designs on the camel coat. However, some Jats 
from Digano Jamali and Bakhar Jamali brought the 
designs from these areas and introduced them in their 
own locales. 

Kachelo designs are found in the area of Dadu and 
Larkana popularly known as Kachho. Jats of Digano 
Jamali have kinship ties with the Jats of Kachho. Their 
frequent interaction with the Jats of Kachho made the 
entry of this design convenient and possible. Today, 
Kachelo design comprises flowers and creepers only. 
However, in the past it also included bird and animal 

Naro is the name of area of Thar and is tehsil of 
Khairpur district. The designs that are commonly used in 
this area are called Narai. The Narai designs also 
comprise various flowers and creepers. 

Finally, Kohistani designs are also found on the 
camels of Jats of Digano Jamali. Designs that are found 
and used in the mountainous regions of Sindh are 
generally called Kohistani. 

This scheme of local designs almost carries the list of 
the same flowers. The only difference that one can 
observe is the shape and size of flower, or the flower 
enclosed by geometric design or surrounded by smaller 
flowers and creepers. These features make one scheme 
distinct from the other. 

Colour Symbolism 

The colour also occupies an important position in the 
culture of Jat. Jat males and females usually like to wear 
loud colours, colours that are visible and conspicuous 
from distance. Modern Jats who have given up the 
profession of camel tending and breeding do not wear 

80 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

a brand (Dagh) indicating its ownership. The brand is 
stamped on either side of the neck, just above the foreleg, 
forehead or cheek of camel. This tradition is transferred 
or inherited through generations. The brand or stamp is 
locally known as Thapo, Marko, Dagh or Nishan. The 
brand of Jamalis Jats in Bakhar and Digano Jamali 
villages almost resemble with English alphabet W and 
locally this brand is called Singar whereas the brand of 
Brahmani Jats is Swastika locally called Mandhani 
(churning stick). Apart from this, there are at least five 
brands of camels found in the village of Digano Jamali. 
These brands are marked on those camels that Jats have 
bought from other tribes. However, Jats do not scrape the 
brand of the tribe from whom camel was bought. 

The brand or sign system is widely practiced in 
Sindh. Almost every district of Sindh is inhabited with 
tribes that mark their livestock with symbols or signs that 
indicate the ownership. One can argue by looking at these 
symbols that they resemble the Indus script. Furthermore, 
these symbols might be the continuity of the Indus script. 

Role of artist in the community 

Artists are greatly respected by Jats. Senior or 
experienced artists are more respectable for Jats than 
junior artists. Senior artists wield great power in the 
community of Jats. They have great influence over 
everyday life of Jats. Jats seek advice from these artists 
before starting any activity. Even matrimonial problems 
are openly discussed with these people by Jats. These 
problems are discussed in the hope of finding a viable 

Jats always seek advice before taking part in camel 
race or dance. It is he (artist) who decides whether to take 
part in the race or not. Furthermore, he is supposed to 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1 79 

District. The renowned Jats of the area arrange this 
beauty competition. This austentatious activity begins 
early in the morning and ends in the evening. Camel 
dancing and racing also takes place on this occasion. 

Camels that participate in the beauty competition do 
not dance or race. They only stand at one particular place 
where people come and see these lavishly decorated 
camels. At the end of activity an award is given to the 
person who has decorated his camel most beautifully. 
Five experienced Jats who act as judges announce the 
award. Two criterions are taken into account while 
announcing the winner. One, they see that the camel is 
adorned with its best of ornaments ranging from jhull to 
small necklaces. Apart from this more attention is paid to 
the body of a camel which is also decorated with 
mesmerizing patterns. These patterns hugely captivate the 
onlookers. The camel which carries the most beautiful 
patterns on its coat wins the first prize (Fig.41). Five to 
ten thousand rupees are awarded to the winner. No trophy 
or other things are conferred. 


The main characteristic of an established artist is that 
he consistently introduces innovative ideas. Jats like and 
respect this type of experienced artist. He has the ability 
to add new motifs and designs to already available 
scheme of designs in the Jat culture. 

A flower or geometric design that was never before 
used on the camels makes the artist an innovator. The 
established artists have made available a number of new 
designs for the novice or their apprentices. 

Camel Brands (Dagh or Nishan) 

Every camel in village Digano Jamali is marked with 

82 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 


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3. Ali, Mubarak. 1987. A Social and Cultural history of Sindh, 
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5. Lambrick, H.T. 1975. Sindh: A general introduction. 
Hyderabad: Sindhi Adabi Board. 

6. Peek, Philip M.1994.The sound of silence: cross-world 
communication and auditory arts in African society. 
American Ethnologist. 21 (3):474-494. 

7. Pithawala, Maneck B. 1978. Historical Geography of Sindh. 
Jamshoro: Institute of Sindology. 

8. Postans, T.1973 .Personal observation on Sindh: the 
manners and customs of its inhabitants and its productive 
capabilities. Karachi: Indus Publications. 

9. Postans, Marianne.2003. Travels, Tales, and Encounters in 
Sindh and Baluchistan 1840-1843. Karachi: Oxford 
University Press. 

10. Ross, David 1976 .The land of the five rivers and Sindh. 
Lahore: Al-Beruni. 

11. Raverty, Major H.G. 1979. The Mihran of Sind. Lahore: 
Sang-e-Meel Publications. 

12. Thomas, R.Hughes ed. 1979 .Memoirs on Sindh. 
vol.l&l 1.Karachi: Karim Sons. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 181 

find or finalize the name of rider for the camel race. If the 
artist selects the rider for race Jat is sure to win. Nobody 
objects to his decision. 

He also hands down the centuries old tradition of 
camel decoration to his juniors or young Jats. During the 
months of March and April, his otak (a space exclusively 
reserved for males) is full of new artists who come from 
far-flung areas to learn to make patterns on the camel 
coat. When he creates patterns on the camel, the young 
Jat observes the activity very seriously and attentively. 
He keeps telling his apprentices regarding the technique, 
a space from where to start the patterns and various 
designs that he makes on the camel. If apprentices don’t 
get the point, they intermittently ask from their teacher. 
Apprentices get to learn this art in a year or two. Senior 
artist does not get payment for the training. He only gets 
payment for the camel decoration. He finishes creating 
patterns on the camel in two or three days. Each camel 
costs Rupees 2000 to 4000. Some artists decorate the 
camel of their friends and relatives free of cost. However, 
friends or relatives pay them on their own. 

After getting an apprenticeship, the fresh trainee 
begins to decorate his own camels, and then the ones 
belonging to the relatives. With passage of time the hard 
work pays off and they become skilled artists who are 
able to decorate the camels of other people. When they 
become fully established artists, they arrange a large 
gathering of renowned Jats who come and acknowledge 
their works. In this gathering, camel owners are invited to 
see and comment on their work. 

84 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

the message of Imams of Ahlebaiyt a.s. and how this 
served as a formal and informal training center. It also 
traced the construction of one Zareeh and Shabeeh that 
later resulted in the creation of many such Zareehs and 
Shabeehs through Zaireen (visitors). 

Sindh is host to a number of religious buildings. 
Almost every important town and village has holy shrines 
associated with both Shias and Sunnis. They are 
frequented by people on a number of occasions to seek the 
blessings and prayers for fulfillment of their wishes. This 
paper investigates the role of holy shrines to educate and 
teach people about Imam Mahdi a.s. This research is based 
on my fieldwork which I conducted in the months of 
December and January 2012 and 2013 respectively. 
However, I have been conducting research on these holy 
shrines associated with Shia faith since 2008. 
Anthropological research tools like in-depth interviews, 
participant observation were adopted to get information 
from the respondents regarding the perception, rituals and 
outcomes of the visitors to the Zareerh and Shabeeh 
Mubarak (holy shrines) in the districts of Khairpur and 
Hyderabad. Zareeh and Shabeeh are replicas of the holy 
shrines of Imam Ali a.s, Imam Hussain a.s and other 
Imams a.s. Prior to discussing the role of these Zareeh and 
Shabeeh Mubarak in educating people about the Twelve 
Imams a.s, it is necessary to have an insight into the 
historical development of these Zareeh and Shabeeh 
Mubaraks in Sindh. The first Zareeh and Shabeeh 
Mubarak (replica of Imam Husain’s shrine at Karbala) was 
constructed at Tando Agha in Hyderabad. It is believed to 
have been constructed by Mir Fateh Ah Khan Talpur in 
1785. Mir Fateh Ali Khan Talpur was the founder of the 
Talpur dynasty, a dynasty which practised the Shia faith. 
Another Zareeh Mubarak was constructed at Tando Noor 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1 83 

Role of Holy Shrines and 
Spiritual Arts in People’s 
Education about Mahdism 


The idea of education or educating the masses is a 
vital force in bringing a change in any society of a 
country. In broader perspective education is considered as 
an essential instrument in transforming the very basis of 
society in terms of creating opportunities and awareness 
among the people. This paper is the first-ever exploration 
of a unique way that helps people’s education about 
Mahdism faith, and its requirements. That is, construction 
of Shabeeh and Zareeh Mubarak [a replica of shrines of 
Imam Hussain a.s. and Imam Ali a.s and other Aemma 
a.s] in Khairpur and Hyderabad districts of Sindh, 
Pakistan. The study uses multiple methodologies to 
collect the data which include review of unpublished data 
and literature, and still photography of the holy shrines 
and places of spiritual importance. Besides these tools, a 
questionnaire is administered to collect key information 
regarding the perceptions, practices and feedback of the 
visitors [zaireen] of these holy places where any Zareeh 
or Shabeeh has been constructed. The study explores how 
the visitors receive any explicit or implicit education 
about the 12 th Imam Muhammad Al-Mahdi when they 
visit these holy places. The study also explains how a 
Zareeh or a Shabeeh or other holy place also acted as an 
institute where a series of lectures and trainings were 
provided to both Shias and Sunnis in order to understand 

86 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

occasions of Muharram or on the visit by the foreign 
guests. These square buildings were now replaced by 
rectangular buildings and more rooms were added. One 
such rectangular building over a Zareeh and Shabeeh 
Mubarak of Imam Hussain a.s. was constructed at 
Khairpur (Fig.43&44). This Shabeeh Mubarak was 
constructed by the last ruler of Khairpur state. It is 
believed to have first been built in 1953 and later 
renovated in 1970 (Hami 1994:242). 

Zareeh and Shabeeh Mubarak of Imam Husain 

This replica of Imam Hussain’s shrine is a 
rectangular building which was constructed by the last 
Talpur ruler of Khairpur state. There are three elegant 
porticoes at the enterance into the building. The main 
gate which opens to the west is named after Imam Ali 
(Fig.45). A beautiful wooden painted gate, known as 
Imam Hussain gate, opens to the Shabeeh and Zareeh 
Mubarak of Imam Hussain. This is the Shabeeh (replica) 
of Imam Hussain’s a.s shrine at Karbala. Near the 
Shabeeh Mubarak is located a hall where sermons and 
lectures are delivered to the faithful. 

According to the royal family of Talpurs of Khairpur, 
Mir Murad Ali Talpur, the last ruler of Khairpur State 
sent two of his masons to Karbala in 1953 to visit the 
holy shrine and bring the imitated design to be 
reconstructed as a replica at Khairpur. It is believed that 
when they came back after pilgrimage from Karbla, they 
began constructing the building the same year. The 
building and replica were made by these two masons. The 
facade of the building is flanked by two minarets 
resembling the holy shrine of Imam Hussain. 

Perceptions and Rituals at Zareeh and Shabeeh 

Many people visit Zareeh and Shabeeh Mubarak 
daily. Some people come from Khairpur and 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1 85 

Muhammad in Hyderabad. Apart from these, Shabeeh 
Mubarak of Imam Hussain’s a.s shrine using only wood 
was made at Tando Mir Muhammad in Hyderabad 

However, Shabeehs at Tando Agha and Tando Noor 
Muhammad were made of gold generously provided by 
the Talpur rulers of Sindh (Hami 1994: 126). The Talpur 
rulers of Sindh constructed Zareehs and Shabeehs for the 
poor people who could not afford to visit the holy shrines 
of Imam Hussain at Karbala, Imam Ali at Najaf and 
Imam Ali Reza at Mashhad. In the beginning only a few 
people visited these shrines but within a few years this 
number swelled to a great extent and few more Zareehs 
and Shabeehs Mubaraks were constructed by Talpur 
rulers in other towns of Sindh for the convenience of the 
visitors. These replicas of the holy shrines of Imams a.s 
served two purposes initially. The first was that these 
acted as symbolic representation of the original shrines at 
Karbala, Najaf and Mashhad where people came to visit 
daily and the second was that religious lectures were 
arranged regularly to educate the people about the 
religion. Therefore, these Zareehs served dual functions 
of shrines and to some extent of madrcisci. This continued 
up to 1980. After that, a new trend took place when 
Zareehs, Shabeehs and madrasa were built separately. As 
mentioned above, earlier Zareehs served both purposes of 
holy shrines and madrasas. This does not mean that 
special lecture series ceased in these Zareehs. Also a new 
style of architecture emerged. Earlier a square building 
mainly comprising two square rooms were built over the 
Zareeh and Shabeeh Mubarak. In the first room there was 
a Zareeh and Shabeeh and the second contained the 
valuable gifts given by the Talpur rulers to Zareeh and 
Shabeeh Mubarak which were displayed on special 

88 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

various aspects of religion. The principle objective is to 
enhance their knowledge about the religious teachings of 
the Imams, educate piety and strengthen their faith. 

The lecture series has left a positive impact on both 
sects Shias and Sunnis. The first important thing that 
religious authorities teach is tolerance among the 
religious sects. With passage of time both have shown 
visible forbearance for each other and have created some 
space for discussion on the host of issues related to the 
Twelve Imams a.s. Interestingly, its not only the lectures 
that serve as food for thought, some poets too have 
composed captivating poetry on the twelve Imams a.s. 
This is unpublished literature and very few people are 
familiar with its contents. In the past during the reign of 
the Talpurs these Zareeh and Shabeeh Mubaraks 
provided space to the poets who after attending the 
lectures which were then arranged by the royal family of 
the Talpurs, composed poetry on the Imams a.s. Themes 
of this poetry were Imam Husain a.s and Karbala, Imam 
Ali a.s and his bravery, and Imam Mahdi a.s and his 

This tradition still continues but is not organized as it 
was during the reign of the Talpurs and even in the 
British period. The poetry on the Imams a.s is still being 
composed. These holy places of Zareeh and Shabeeh play 
dual roles; 1) these provide opportunity to the visitors for 
Ziarat and 2) simultaneously, educate people about the 
religion which is peculiarity of holy spaces in Sindh only. 
Normally, this takes place in the Madrasa where 
religious education is taught to the students and it is also 
being taught through a series of lectures at the holy places 
of Zareeh and Shabeeh Mubarak in different towns of 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1 87 

neighbhouring villages and towns and the others come 
from far-flung villages and towns of different districts of 
Sindh. This Shabeeh and Zareeh are greatly venerated by 
people. They believe that their visit to this holy place 
redresses their everyday problems. This belief increased 
their visits to the holy place of Shabeeh and Zareeh 
Mubarak. Most of the people bring their ailing children to 
the holy place of Zareeh Mubarak carrying a strong belief 
that as soon as they would touch the replica of Imam 
Husain’s shrine their children would heal instantly. The 
parents of not only ailing children but those who wish for 
their first child also visit the Zareeh Mubarak. The main 
rituals performed at the holy place of Zareeh Mubarak are 
the prayers (namaz) and Manat (vow). In order to have 
their wishes fulfilled by Imam Hussain a.s, devotees tie 
the threads at his Zareeh Mubarak. Apart from these the 
ritual of Areezon is also performed on the auspice ous 
day of 15 th Sha’ban. On this day people write Areezon 
(pleas or requests) to Imam Mahdi a.s and leave their 
pleas written on the paper near the replica of Imam 
Hussain’s shrine. 

The timings of Ziarat of Shabeeh and Zareeh 
Mubarak are from 8:00 a.m to 5:00 pm. A routine lecture 
is delivered in the evening on different aspects of religion 
attended by both Shias and Sunnis. Every Thursday and 
Friday evenings, special lectures are arranged on the 
Twelve Imams a.s for which a religious scholar is invited 
to give a talk on the lives of the Twelve Imams a.s. The 
basic idea behind these lectures is to educate the people 
who do not know much about their religion and how it is 
to be practiced. In this age of globalization, majority of 
the people have become addicted to entertainment 
programmes on the electronic media. The caretakers of 
Shabeeh and Zareeh invite the general public in order to 
create awareness among the people and lecture them on 

90 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

history of the Talpurs, the sacred footprints of Imam Ali 
a.s were given by the Iranian King to Mir Fateh Ali 
Talpur (1783-1795). Mir Fateh Ali Talpur preserved them 
at Hyderabad and later built an impressive building over 

The Talpur ruler built a special room inside Pucca 
Qila (fort) for these holy footprints beside a mosque for 
ziyarat. After namaz (prayers) on Thursday night the 
women of the Talpur family used to visit to see these 
footprints. The common people had no chance to see 
them except on Eid of Nauroz. 

The last ruler of the Talpur dynasty in Sindh Mir 
Naseer Khan Talpur (1829-1843), on the request of the 
people, built a shrine of footprints of Imam Ali a.s and 
placed these stones in it, where people could see them. 
This shrine was open to the general public. Before the 
partition of India and Pakistan, this place was known as 
“Shah ja Qadam” (footprints of Shah) but with the 
passage of time it became known as “Qadamgah Imam 
Ali a.s” 

The visitors and devotees come not only from 
Pakistan but from India, Afghanistan and many other 
countries for paying tribute to relics of Imam Ali a.s. All 
the devotees come to pray and to seek fulfillment of their 
hearts wishes. Their wishes are based on their devoted 
beliefs about Qadamgah (Figs. 46&47). 

There are many sacred places at Qadamgah Imam Ali 
a.s which include: shrine of the footprints of Imam Ali 
a.s, Alam Pak, Shabeeh of shrine of Hazrat Ghazi Abbas 
Alamdar a.s (Fig.48). All these sacred places are crowded 
with people who come to pray. Apart from these holy 
spaces, relics donated by different influential people have 
also been kept in one of the halls of the shrine which is 
open for the devotees. These relics include the glazed 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1 89 

Explicit and implicit Education about Imam IVIahdi 

Those who visit the Zareeh and Shabeeh Mubarak of 
Khairpur and Hyderabad also get educated about Imam 
Mahdi a.s. Usually people go to the caretaker of the 
Zareeh and Shabeeh (shrine) who is also a very 
knowledgeable person to seek further knowledge. If 
anyone is interested to know more about Imam Mahdi 
a.s, he/she can easily access the booklets for reading that 
are available in plenty. Those interested are also given 
information about the lecture series on the twelfth Imam 
a.s which is arranged by the caretaker of Zareeh 
Mubarak. The basic idea of arranging lectures related 
specially to the Twelfth Imam a.s is to inculcate in the 
young generation who are more prone to entertainment 
like movies etc, values and traditions of the renowned 
religious leaders. The audience comprises both Sunnis 
and Shias. In a religiously tolerant society of Sindh both 
Shias and Sunnis attend the lectures together in order to 
create interfaith harmony. Therefore, holy spaces act as 
both a shrine for worship and an institute for imparting 
religious knowledge. This identity of the shrine as an 
institute led to construction of many small and large 
Zareeh and Shabeeh Mubaraks in different towns of 
Sindh. Additionally, quite a large number of Shabeeh and 
Zareeh Mubaraks too were constructed in Khairpur, 
Sukkur and Hyderabad districts. These replicas of holy 
shrines provide background knowledge to the people 
about Ahlebaiyt a.s. Moreover, people also get lessons on 
Imam Mahdi at various shrines and sacred footprints of 
Imam Ali a.s (Qadamgah Imam Ali a.s). The prominent 
Qadamgah of Imam Ali a.s is located in Hyderabad. 
These footprints were brought from Iran to Hyderabad 
during the reign of Mir Fateh Ali Khan Talpur who was a 
friend of Fateh Ali Qajar of Iran. According to the family 

92 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Many sacred things associated with holy shrines of 
Imam Ali a.s, Imam Hussain a.s, Hazrat Abbas a.s are 
safely placed in the separate rooms at the holy shrine of 
Qadimgah Imam Ali a.s. Some pebble stones of Samarra 
also placed in the shrine. These items are venerated by 
people who visit Qadimgah. Apart from the footprints 
of Imam Ali a.s, replica of his Shabeeh Mubarak has 
also been shielded in the shrine where people come to 
pay homage and pray at the Zareeh Mubarak. They 
come to get the blessings of Imam Ali a.s. Close to the 
Zareeh is jhoola (cradle) of Ali Asghar a.s (Fig. 49) 
which is made of metal. The wooden cradle of Ali 
Aghar a.s (Fig. 50) can be found in the Zareeh (Fig.51) 
and Shabeeh Mubarak of Imam Hussain a.s at Kot Diji 
(Fig.52) which was made by the Mir Faiz Muhammad, 
the ruler of Khairpur State (Hami 1994: 245). There are 
some valuable objects at this Zareeh and Shabeeh 
Mubarak which were donated by the royal family of 
Talpurs. This is the second largest Zareeh Mubarak in 
Sindh after Khairpur. The Zareeh Mubarak and Shabeeh 
of Kot Diji are only visited by the royal family members 
of Talpur dynasty. This Zareeh Mubarak is close to the 
royal palace of the Talpurs. Due to security reasons, 
only the royal family members have access to the shrine. 
The general public can only visit the Zareeh and 
Shabeeh Mubarak at Khairpur which was also built by 
the Talpur ruler. 

All these Zareehs, Shabeehs and sacred spaces 
associated with footprints of Imam Ali a.s served as 
informal training centres to the Zaireen (visitors). Over a 
period of time, these holy places of Zareeh resulted in 
construction of numerous small and large Zareehs at 
various places in Sindh. These Zareehs and Shabeehs of 
Imam Husain’s a.s shrine provided spiritual links 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 191 

tiles, coverings of the shrines of Imams a.s and many 
others things. 

This is also a holy shrine for both Shias and Sunnis 
where they also get in-depth understanding about various 
aspects of religion including the twelfth Imam, Imam 
Mahdi a.s. Today, this is one of the holiest shrines in 
Sindh frequented not only by Muslims but also by 
Hindus and Christians who are regular visitors. The 
Hindus and Christians believe that Imam Ali is Wali 
(friend) of Allah and he would solve their problem if they 
visit the shrine regularly. It is one of the peculiarities of 
Sindhi society where people belonging to different 
religions, castes and creeds visit the footprint shrine of 
Imam Ali a.s. The visitors tie pieces of cloth as Manat 
(plea) at the Zareeh Mubarak of Hazrat Abbas Alamdar. 
People also tie pieces of cloth at the Zareeh Mubarak and 
pray at Zareeh Mubarak. These people also attend the 
lectures which often are held at the Qadamgah Imam Ali 
a.s. According to the caretaker of the shrine, many people 
have converted to Islam after regularly attending these 
lectures. The lectures include various topics on Islam and 
some of these throw light on twelve Imams a.s. Similar 
lectures are also held at the shrine. The Hindu and 
Christians too believe that Imam Mahdi a.s is real 
Messiah who will appear soon and will solve their 
problems. This belief draws many people to shrine to 
attend the lectures, get convinced and subsequently 
convert to Islam. 

It was at this holy shrine of Qadamgah Imam Ali a.s 
that many eminent poets of Talpur period (1783-1843) 
composed soul searching poetry on Ahlebaiyt a.s. One 
finds a large number of poems being composed by Talpur 
period poets. Even in the British period (1843-1947), one 
finds several poets composing poetry on Imam Mahdi a.s. 

94 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

growth of these holy shrines. First, the greater Iranian 
influence on Shia community in Sindh has resulted 
in erection of additional Zareeh and Shabeeh 
Mubaraks. The structures over these holy relics also 
resemble the Iranian architecture. Second, the rich Shia 
businessmen have contributed generously to the growth 
of the holy shrines in Sindh as without their financial 
support this activitiy would not have been possible. The 
apparent motive behind these sponsorships is to build a 
network of holy shrines to impart religious education and 
subsequently convert non-Shia population to Shia 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1 93 

between Imams a.s and his followers. Through his Zareeh 
and Shabeeh, Zaireen (visitors) spiritually felt to be at 
holy shrines of Imam Ali a.s at Najaf, Imam Hussain’s a.s 
shrine at Karbala and Imam Reza a.s at Mashhad. 

The artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries 
were influenced by the art of paining of the shrines. As 
such they painted the walls of holy shrines, tombs and 
mosques. The earliest mosque that depicts the holy 
shrines of the Imams a.s is located at Qubo Shahdad in 
Sanghar district of Sindh. Apart from the mosque, one 
finds a number of tombs with the representations of the 
holy cities of Makkah, Madina, Karbala and Najaf in 
Kalhora (1700-1783) and Talpur period (1783-1843). 
This art of painting of holy shrines still continues. The 
more recent tomb, built in 2007 is of Shadi Shaheed in 
Khairpur district which illustrates important holy shrines 
and mosques of Islam. There are two rows of portraits of 
holy shrines and mosques on the domed ceiling of the 
tomb. The first row depicts the holy Kaaba, Masjid 
Nabawi etc. The second row represents the shrines of 
Imam Ali a.s (Fig.53), Imam Hussain a.s etc. 


It is important to note that Shabeeh and Zareeh 
Mubaraks played a significant role in educating the 
people about the holy shrines of Imams a.s. The 
institutes like Zareeh and Shabeeh are conduits for 
spreading the messages of Islam. The education element 
in these holy places has been welcomed by the public 
desirous to understand their religion and has resulted in 
unprecedented construction of Zareeh and Shabeeh 
Mubaraks in small and large towns of Sindh. Almost 
every Imam Bargah in upper Sindh houses a Zareeh and 
Shabeeh Mubarak. There are two main factors that led to 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 95 


1. Beg, Mirza Abbas Ali Beg. 1980. Khudayar Khani Mian 
Sarfaraz Khan Abbasi. Jamshoro: Institute of Sindhology. 

2. Hami, Atta Muhammad. 1994. Khairpur Je Mir an Jo Adab, 
Siyast Ain Sakafat Men Hiso (Role of Mirs of Khairpur in 
Literature, Politics and Culture). Jamshoro: Institute of 

3. Laghari, Abdul Jabbar. 1999. Sindhi Shairi Ji Makhtasar 
Tarikh (A Short history of Sindh Poetry). Shikarpur: 
Mehran Academy. 

4. Parveen, Jaipur (2002). Talpur Rule in Sindh. Karachi: 
Ferozsons (Pvt). 

5. Schimmel, Annemarie. 1986. “Karbala and the Imam 
Husayn in Persian and Indo-Muslim Literature” In Al-Serat 
Vol XII, Harvard University. 

6. Schimmel, Annemarie. 1986. Pearls from the Indus: Studies 
in Sindhi Culture. Jamshoro: Sindhi Adabi Board. 

7. Sheedai, Rahimdad Khan Moulai. 2005. Talpran ji 
Mukhtasar Tarikh. Jamshoro: Institute of Sindhology. 

98 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

language was greatly valued in Sindh and the Persian 
scholars acquired higher status in Sindhi society. 
However, it was during the Soomra period (1055- 
1350) that the earliest Persian poetry by foreign 
settlers could be traced. The interaction of Sindhi 
scholars with Persian scholars opened the new vistas in 
the spheres of poetry and history. The Persian poets also 
flourished during the reigns of Arghuns (1520-1555), 
Tarkhans (1555-1590) and the Mughals (1590-1700) 
rulers of Sindh. However, it was during the reigns of the 
Kalhoras (1700-1783) and Talpurs (1783-1843) when the 
Persian poetry attained pinnacle of glory. 

During these periods, direct relationship was 
established with the rulers of Iran and many Iranian poets 
came and became the court poets of Sindhi kings. When 
Nadir Shah invaded India and Sindh, he took along with 
him three Kalhora princes of Sindh to Mashhad, Iran. 
During their stay in Iran, they were influenced by Iranian 
culture and religion. When these princes returned to 
Sindh, one of them Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhoro who 
later became ruler of Sindh encouraged Persian scholars 
and fixed stipends for them. Later on, his son Mian 
Sarfraz became the new king of Sindh. He also 
encouraged Persian poets and many Persian poets from 
Isfahan and Shiraz arrived to become his court poets. 
Mian Sarfraz was a great Persian poet himself. He 
composed many marsia (elegies), rubais, qasidas 
(monody) etc. The Talpur rulers were followers of the 
Shia faith and many of them were poets of great repute 

The earliest period in the history of Sindh in which 
some compositions in Persian poetry by the foreign 
settlers in this province can be traced, is the thirteenth 
century- the period of the Soomra Kings. Some of these 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 197 

Depiction of Imam Mahdi in Sindhi 
poetry of Sindh 


This paper discusses the themes that Persian poets 
introduced in Sindh during the 15th, 16th and 17th 
centuries and how they were incorporated in Sindhi 
poetry by Sindhi poets. The main themes during these 
centuries borrowed from Persian poets were the 
veneration of Imam Ali and the tragedy of Karbala. 
These two themes were main topics for Sindhi poets. 
Second, when direct relationship was established in 
the 18 th and 19 th centuries with Iran, Persian poets 
travelled from Iran and introduced another theme of 
Imam Mahdi in both Sindhi and Persian poetry of 
Sindh. This theme of Imam Mahdi remained 
predominant for later period poets in their poems. I 
have also described and discussed the names of those 
poets who composed poetry about Imam Mahdi. 
Lastly, I have also discussed how this theme of Imam 
Mahdi in Sindhi poetry became agent of change thus 
converting many to Shai faith. 

Sindh, the southern province of Pakistan, remained 
under the Persian rule for many centuries. Right from 
the Achaemenians, Sassanians, and Parthians to Nadir 
Shah’s time, Persian art and culture influenced the Sindhi 
society to a great extent. The Persian scholars had made 
their way into Sindh during the Ghaznavid dynasty, much 
before the foray of Nadir Shah in Sindh. Later in the 
Samma period (1351-1520), learning the Persian 

loo | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

the Persian poetry in India. There was hardly a poet of 
eminence during this period, most notable, however, 
being Shaikh Muhammad Ali “Hazin”, Syed Ahmed 
“Hatif ’ of Isfahan. During the reign of Prince Aurangzeb, 
there was little scope for Persian poetry. Moreover, the 
emergence of Urdu which had been in the process of 
development for a long time, gave a death blow to the 
Persian literature. A few solitary luminaries, however, 
continued a ray of light in the field of Persian literature in 
India (Baloch 2004, Sadarangani 1987). Paradoxically, 
however, this was the golden age of Persian poetry 
in the remote, incalculable province of Sindh. During 
the major part of the eighteenth century Sindh was 
governed by the Kalhoras (1700-1783), first as a tributary 
of Mughal Empire in Delhi and then as independent 
monarchs. In India more and more attention came to be 
given to Urdu and Persian poetry was almost completely 
neglected. It is difficult to name even a single great 
poet in this period (Laghari 1999; Sadarangani 1987; 
Junejo 1994). 

Sindh by this time had passed from the hands of the 
Kalhoras to the Talpurs (1783-1843). Shia by faith, 
Talpurs established relationships with the Shah of Persia 
that saw influx of many Persian scholars into Sindh. With 
the fall of Talpur dynasty and the advent of the British 
(1843-1947) the Persian literature received a setback. 
However, as a result of strenuous efforts of some old 
scholars to keep Persian alive in the province, many 
poems were composed in Persian language. 

Persian themes and their Adoption in Sindhi Poetry 

Many Sindhi poets composed the poetry in their 
vernacular. The earliest classical literature of Sindhi 
language has been divided into the following poetic 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 199 

pieces are by Ali bin Hamid Kufi, the well-known 
writer of the Chachnama who arrived and settled in the 
province of Sindh in 1216 and the rest are by Shaikh 
Uthman-i-Marwandi, popularly known as Lai 
Shahbaz. The earliest Persian poets of Sindh, according 
to extant annals, are the indigenous writers Jam Juna, 
Shaikh Hamm ad Jamali, Shaikh Isa Langoti, Jam Nindo 
all of whom belong to the Samma period (1350- 
1520) (Laghari 1999; Sadarangani 1987:2). The rulers 
of succeeding dynasties of Arghuns and Tarkhans 
were also men of literary learnings. They opened 
several schools for the study of Persian and attracted to 
their court from Persia many poets and scholars like 
Hashimi Kirmani, Nimatuallh “Wash”, Mulla Asad 
Qissa Khwan, Hakim Laghfur-i-Gilani, Mulla Murshid 
Burujirdi,Talib Amuli and Shayda Isfahani. 

Later on Sindh was annexed to the Mughal 
Empire and came to be directly governed by the 
agents appointed by the Emperor of Delhi. Many 
Mughal agents or governors too for instance Nawab 
Amir Khan, Abu Nusart Khan, Mir Lutaf Ali Khan etc 
were poets and patrons of learning. Thatta, the capital of 
Sindh during the reigns of Sammas, Arghuns, 
Tarkhans and Mughals, was at the height of its renown 
and the cradle of Islamic culture and learning. During 
these periods, one gets the names of Idraki, Beglari and 
Haji Muhammad Redai who made an original 
contribution to the Mathnawi form by versifying the 
native tragedies of Lila wa Chanesar and Ziba wa 
Nigar (alias Sasui-wa-Punhun) respectively. Mir Masum 
Shah “Nami” wrote five Mathnawis in imitation of 
Nizami’s Punj Gunj. He also composed Diwan 
(Sadarangani 1987:4). 

The eighteenth century is the “most barren” period in 

102 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

the historians, but it is particularly Muhammad 
Muhsin, who lived in the old, glorious capital of 
Sindh, Thatta, with whose name is the Persian 
marthiya/marsiain Sindh connected (Schimmel 1986; 
Sandarangrani 1987; Abbas 1984). He composed a great 
number of Tarji’band and particularly salam, in which 
beautiful strong imagery can be perceived: 

The boat of Mustafa’s family has been drowned in 

The black cloud of infidelity has waylaid the sun 

The candle of the Prophet was extinguished by the 
breeze of the Kufans 

Muhammad Muhsin was a son of Nur 
Muhammad and belonged to the family of silk 
merchants of Thatta. He was by far the best poet of 
Thatta and wrote six books in Persian. He received 
fifteen Rupees from Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro 
(1719-1753) as a stipend, which though small kept him 
quite contended (Bhatti 2002:120). In one of his books, 
Mihakk-I-Kamal (the touchstone of perfection), which 
contained a collection of 13000 verses of different 
poets with his own 800 verses were dedicated to Mian 
Noor Muhammad Kalhoro entitled Quli Khan 
(Sadarangani 1987:93). Apart from marthiya/marsia he 
also composed many mukhammas (fivesome) in the 
praise of Hazrat Ali (A.S). Allama Muhammad Mui’n 
was another Persian poet who composed 
marthiyas/marsia and verses in the praise of Hazrat Ali 
(A.S). He called Hazrat Ali (A.S) in one of his verses as 
Asadullah, meaning “Lion of God.” Later Mir Ali Slier 
Qaani, a Persian scholar and poet of Kalhora period 
developed different form of ‘ marthiya/ marsia in 
‘question and answer style’ (Schimmel 1986). 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1101 

a) Romantic Ballads 

b) Religious poetry 

c) Pseudo Romantic ballads 

d) Epic poetry and 

e) Customary and ceremonial songs 

The forms in which the earlier poets expressed 
themselves are termed as classical. Makhdum Null 
(1505-1589) of Hala, Shah Karim of Bulri (1537- 
1628), Pir Muhammad Lakhvi (d.1600), Lutfullah 
Qadri (1611-1679), Shah Inayat Rizvi (d. 1717), Shah 
Abdul Latif Bhitai (1689-1752), Khawaja Muhammad 
Zaman of Lunari (1713-1774) were the most 
renowned poets who composed verses with religious 
thought manifesting the yearning love of the human 
soul for divine (Allana 1991). 

Prior to direct relationship with Iran in the 13 th , 15 th 
and 16 th centuries, poets came either from India and some 
from Iran and settled in Sindh. Some became court poets 
of the Sindhi kings. The themes mainly dealt with 
love, natural happenings, natural beauty, and 
romances etc. In the first quarter of eighteenth century 
before Nadir Shah’s foray into Sindh Persian poets 
introduced two more themes, veneration of Hazrat Ali 
(A.S) and the tragedy of Karbala. This was during the 
reign of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro (1719-1753). 
Two poets during his rule composed Persian 
marsia/marthiyas . Therefore, the introduction of Persian 
marthiya/marsia and later its development in Sindh is 
connected with Kalhora period. However, Sindhi 
marthiya reached its pinnacle during the reign of the 

Both Allama Muhammad Mui’n alais Makhdum 
Tharo (1682-1748) and Muhammad Muhsin were 
among the first marthiya-gus of Sindh mentioned by 

1041 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Lord! may you grant victory to the princes so brave, 

Moreover poets raise question that those who do not 
grieve, will they be forgiven by God 
In his another poem: 

Those whose hearts grieve not for Hasan and Husain 


Can they be forgiven by Almighty, the lord of all. 

Shah Abdul Latif’s interpretation of the fate of the 
Imam Husain as a model of enduring pain and suffering 
of his beloveds and thus treading the mystical path is a 
deeply impressive piece of literature. It was never 
surpassed, although in his succession a number of poets 
composed elegies on Karbala. The most famous of them 
is Sabit Ali Shah (1740-1810) whose specialty was the 
poetic genre of suwari, the poem addressed to the rider 
Husain, who once as child had ridden on the Prophet’s 
back and then was riding bravely into the battlefield 
(Schimmel 1986). This genre was developed by Syed 
Sabit Ali Shah who was the court poet of Mian Sarfaraz 
Khan Kalhoro and later became a court poet of Mir 
Karam Ali Talpur. This genre, as well as the more 
common forms, persisted in Sindhi throughout the whole 
18 th and 19 th centuries and even in British and 
contemporary times (Sachal Sarmast, Bedil Rohriwaro, 
Mir Hasan, Shah Nasir, Mirza Budhal Beg, Mirza 
Qalich Beg, to mention a few, some of whom were 
Sunni sufis).The suwari theme was lovingly elaborated 
by poet Mir Abdul Hasan Sangi, to whom Sindhi 
owes some very fine and touching songs in the 
honour of prince matrtyrs, and who strongly 
emphasizes the mystical aspects of the event of 
Karbala, Husain is here put in the relation with the 
Holy Prophet (Schimmel 1986). 

The prince has made his miraj on the ground of Karbala, 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1103 

What is raining? Blood 
Who? The eyes 
How? Day and Night 
Why? From grief 
Grief for the king of Karbala 

The most interesting tradition along with Persian 
tradition was the development of marthiya/marsia in 
Sindhi. Shah Abdul Latif of Bhit (1689-1752) was 
the first to express ideas which were later taken up 
by other poets. He devoted sur Kedaro in his Risalo (a 
book of his poetry) to the martyrdom of the grandson of 
the Prophet and saw event of Karbala as embedded in 
whole mystical traditions of Islam. He brings his listeners 
to the moment when no news was heard from the heroes 
(Schimmel 1986): 

The moon of Muharram was seen, anxiety about the 
princes occurred. 

What has happened? 

Muharram has come back, but the Imams have not come 
O princes of Medina, may the Lord bring us together. 

In the same sur of Kedaro, he further describes the 
sufferings of Imams in the Karbala and puts it in the 
following words: 

In Karbala’s plain, Kufans prevented them from drinking 


The princes then remembered Ali, their noble father, 
Coming out of their tents, glancing around, they call 
Prophet for help. 

Shah Bhitai writes that everyone mourned on the 
martyrdom of the Imam Husain. He delineates in his 
poem that three creatures mourned: 

Three types of creatures mourn Hasan and Husain, 
People in the homes, beasts in jungle, angles in heaven 
Birds in sorrow beat their wings for the loved ones have 


1061 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Persian poets of Iran. Some Sindhi scholars believe that it 
was introduced for first time by Mian Sarfaraz Khan 
Kalhoro (1772-1776) son of Mian Ghulam Shah 
Kalhoro who composed Rubais on Imam Mahdi ( Beg 
1980:79). But based on the documented proof, one can 
safely argue that the theme of Imam Mahdi was first 
introduced by Muhammad Muhsin. He wrote five Persian 
books and one Diwan. One of his books Tiraz-i-Danish 
(Royal robe of knowledge), is a mathnavi which 
commemorates the birth of Imam Mahdi (Sadarangani 
1986:92). But unfortunately his book is not available in 
any library of Pakistan to cite his work on Imam Mahdi. 

Mian Sarfaraz Khan Kalhoro as mentioned above 
was son of Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhoro. Mian Ghulam 
Shah Kalhoro had married daughter of Ali Raza 
Isfahani in Iran when he was living as a hostage at the 
court of Nadir Shah. When Nadir Shah was killed in 
1748, Mian Ghulam Shah returned to Sindh along with 
his Iranian wife. She bore him illustrious son Mian 
Sarfaraz. Mian Ghulam Shah (1757-1772) had also a 
great Iranian Influence. When he became king of Sindh, 
he installed alams in every important shrine in Sindh. 
However, the more prominent alam was installed in the 
shrine of Lai Shabaz Qalander (Beg 1980:126). When he 
constructed the Pucca fort of Hyderabad, he engraved the 
names of Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) and all Imams with 
clearly the name of Imam Mahdi on the stone slab of 
the main gate of the fort (Beg 1980:122) This 
reflected his reverence and devotion to all the Imams. 
Many Iranians became his ministers and court poets. 
Likewise, when Mian Sarfaraz Khan (1772-1776) 
became the ruler of Sindh, he also encouraged many 
Iranian scholars and poets at his court. He was greatly 
impressed by Iranian culture. In one of his poems, he 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1105 

The Shah’s horse has gained the rank of Buraq. 

Death brings the Imam Husain, who was riding on 
Zuljinah, into the divine presence as much as the winged 
Buraq brought the Holy Prophet into the immediate 
divine presence during his night journey and ascent into 
heaven (Schimmel 1986). 

There is another genre munaqibain which Panjtan 
(Muhammad (P.B.U.H), Ali, Fatima, Hasan and Husain) 
are praised interestingly enough, their munaqiba come 
from Sunni author Pandhi Arisar. Apart from Pandhi 
Arisar, many munaqiba both by Sunnis and Shias were 
written for Ali ibn Abi Talib, almost all of them praise his 
incomparable bravery (Schimmel 1986: 214). 

The depiction of Imam IVIahdi in Sindhi poetry 

King Nadir Shah invaded India and Sindh in 
1739 thus annexing Sindh to his empire. Sindh came 
under ther rule of the Persian monarch. Nadir Shah took 
three sons of Mian Noor Muhammad, the king of Sindh, 
as hostage to Mashhad, Iran. His sons, who were taken to 
Iran, were Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhoro, Mian Muradyab 
Kalhoro, and Mian Atur Khan Kalhoro (Beg 1980:27). 
Later Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro sent his generals 
Jam Nindo, and Shaikh Ghulam Muhammad, Khairo and 
his court poets Muhammad Muhsin, Shia by faith, to look 
after his sons in Iran (Mahar 1996:406). 

It is believed that Muhammad Muhsin after coming 
back from Iran introduced another theme of Imam Mahdi 
which was hitherto unknown in Persian and Sindhi poetry 
of Sindh. There is another school of thought that argues 
that it was introduced by Persian poets from Iran who 
accompanied Nadir Shah and some settled in Sindh. But 
there is no documented proof that it was introduced by 

1081 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

on Imam Mahdi. In one of his poems, Syed Sabit 
Ali Shah salutes and praises Imam Mahdi: 

Welcome! The follower of Prophet Muhammad’s path. 
You have the qualities of Ali 
You have the beauty of Hasan 
You are the custodian of Husain, the martyr of Karbala 
Welcome! Hazrat Imam Mahdi Welcome. 

Many other poets of Kalhora period namely Mirza 
Murad Ali Beg composed poems on Imam Mahdi making 
salutations to him in his poetry. Murad Ali Beg lived 
during the reigns of Kalhoras and Talpurs. He died in 
1837 (Beg 1984:18). However, in the 19 th century during 
the Talpur rule, tremendous amount of poetry was 
composed on Imam Mahdi. The Talpurs were Shia by 
faith; therefore, they encouraged the poets to compose 
poetry on Imam Mahdi. One finds the names of several 
important poets who commemorated the birth of Imam 
Mahdi in their poetry. A Talpur period poet Mirza Hamid 
Ali Beg is overjoyed on the birth of the beloved Imam 
Mahdi which he expresses in the following piece: 

In the mid of Month of Sha’ban (15 th ) Sahib Zaman was 


His majesty Imam Mahdi was born 
The light spread in the whole universe 
Imam Mahdi was born. 

Another poet of the same period composed poetry on 
the birth of Imam Mahdi and says that: 

It is eid on 15 th Sha’ban at the home of every Momin 
Because Imam Mahdi was born on this auspicious day 

One finds a large number of poems composed by 
Talpur period poets. Even in the British period (1843- 
1947), one finds several poets who composed poetry on 
Imam Mahdi. One very famous poet of this period was 
Mir Abdul Hussain Sangi (1852-1924). He composed 
poems on the birth, and zahoor (appearance), and made 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1107 

mentioned that the people of Isfahan could only 
understand and value his poetry: 

The people of Sindh do not know the worth of your 
poetry, Sarfaraz! 

Take it to Isfahan where it would be duly acknowledged. 

He was a very good poet and composed his 
poetry in Persian. He composed marsiya, Rubais , 
ghazals, munajat and madah in Persian language. When 
he was dethroned and imprisoned in 1776, he composed 
many Rubais ( quatrains) on Imam Mahdi in the prison. 
In one of his Rubais, he called upon for the help of Imam 
Mahdi against the cruelty and injustice through which the 
world, of which he is also part, is passing. 

My lord, my beloved, My Imam Mahdi, my majesty, 
How long I bear this injustice, violence and cruelty 
From the injustice, the cruelty and violence of Kings and 

their governors 

I am standing at your door seeking your help against 


His son Mir Muhammad Kalhoro also composed 
Rubais, on Imam Mahdi. This theme was later on taken up 
by a number of Sindhi poets. Sindhi poets composed poetry 
on Imam Mahdi by focusing on four themes 1) Birth 2) 
Zahoor (appearance), 3) help/assistance 4) 

The first Sindhi poet who composed poetry on Imam 
Mahdi was Syed Sabit Ali Shah. He first served as the 
court poet of Mian Sarfaraz Kalhoro and later on 
Mir Karam Ali Talpur. He introduced two poetic genres 
in Sindhi, manqabat and Salam. In the former 
praiseworthy verses were composed on Imam Mahdi and 
in the latter, Imam Mahdi was saluted in the Salam genre. 

The poetry of Syed Sabit Ali Shah served as a 
springboard for several other poets who composed poetry 

no | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

(1876-1970), Mirza Dost Muhammad Beg (1862- 
1920), Mirza Hussain Quli Beg (1865-1910), Mirza 
Murad Ali Beg (1862-1916), Mirza Nadir Ali Beg 
Nadir (1891-1940). In one of the following verses Imam 
Ali Beg calls upon Imam Mahdi for help: 

My Lord Hazrat Sahib al Zaman help me 
Listen to the plea of the helpless 
My majesty Imam Mahdi help me 
My condition is not hidden from you 
Imam Ali Beg lived in the old capital of Sindh 
Hyderabad. After the British conquest of Sindh, 
Hyderabad remained the centre of the Shia poets. He 
composed Salam (salutation), marthiya/marsiya and 
qasida. Apart from Imam Ali Beg (Laghari 1999:107), 
there was another contemporary poet Syed Ghulam 
Hyder Shah (1898-1957). He was born in Thatta and 
served the Talpurs of Khairpur Mirs (Beg 1984:36). He 
composed poems on marsiya, salam and manqabat. In 
one of his poems, he expresses that how his and other 
Momins’ (a term used for Shias) wishes were fulfilled by 
Imam Mahdi: 

Lord of all, made the 15 Sha’ban the auspicious day 
Offering missed prayers (qazai umari) night passed 
Before the crack of the dawn Momins wrote Areezon 


And everyone is elated that their wishes were fulfilled 

Some of the members of the Talpur dynasty also 
composed poetry about Imam Mahdi. Mir Hasan Ali 
Khan Talpur (1824-1907), who was a son of the last ruler 
of Sindh Mir Naseer Khan Talpur, was born in the 
Hyderabad in 1824. When the British supplanted the 
Talpur dynasty, Mir Hasan Ali Khan Talpur was 
arrested along with his father and was confined to 
Calcutta jail in India. It is believed that during his 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1109 

Salam (salutations) to Imam Mahdi in his poetry. In one 
of his poems, Sangi says: 

My wish is to prostrate to the place/Muqam 
Where Imam Mahdi appears 
And then live in Medina! 

Where tranquility prevails 

After the fall of Talpur dynasty at the hands of the 
British, the poets continued to compose poetry on Imam 
Mahdi. In this period, there were also many Sindhi poets 
who wrote poetry on Imam Mahdi. One such poet was 
Mirza Qurban Ali Beg (1887-1923) who says: 

You are my Imam Ya Mahdi 
I am your slave Ya Mahdi 
Fulfill my wish 

My wish is to make salutations (salams) to you Ya Mahdi 
The father of Qurban Ali Beg, Mirza Qasim Ali Beg 
(1837-1904) was also a very famous poet who also 
composed poetry on Imam Mahdi. In one of his poems, 
he requested God, the lord of all to please make the 
appearance of Imam Mahdi soon so that he may rid 
the world of cruelty and restore peace : 

Oh my lord, make the appearance of Imam Mahdi soon 
This is the prayer of everyone day and night 
So that cruelty is removed and justice is restored in the 


The plea is of everyone everywhere in the world day and 


Many other Sindhi poets of British period who 
composed poetry on Imam Mahdi were Mirza Imam 
Ali Beg (1881-1955), Mirza Husain Ali Beg (1890- 
1915), Mirza Ali Muhammad Beg, Mirza Gul Hasan 
Beg, Makhdoom Pir Ghulam Rasool (1882-1941), 
Mirza Maddad Ali Beg (1894-1930), Bedil Rohriwaro 
(1814-1872) Abbas Ali Beg, Mirza Ali Nawz Beg 


112 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Perfect guide they found, 

Perfect Imam Mahdi they found, 

Smashed were doubts! 

Now the mendicants are with their heads covered. 

There is another beautiful two line verse by Janan 
faqir Chan on Imam Mahdi in which he expresses his 
condition in the following lines: 

I was unclean, became clean with the blessings of 
Imam Mahdi 

When my Majesty Imam Mahdi showed me the right 
path to follow 


The theme of Imam Mahdi in Sindhi poetry was 
predominantly recurrent and it became a catalyst of 
change in converting many people to the Shia sect. This 
took place mainly during the Talpur period when the 
rulers promoted the mush a ’ira (poetic 
gathering/symposium) culture where the ordinary people 
came and listened to the eminent poets who had 
composed poetry on the tragedy of Karbala, the bravery 
of Hazrat Ali (A.S) and Zahoor of Imam Mahdi. The 
population found solace in the poetry on these themes. 
There was a growing interest among ordinary people to 
attend the poetic gatherings (musha’iras). Initially this 
was confined to the four cities with a considerable 
Shia inhabitants and these were Hyderabad, Sehwan, 
Rohri and Khairpur. The Talpur rulers promoted and 
encouraged the poets to compose poetry on the Imams. 
Later on, other centres sprang up in the other towns and 
cities and even in the villages. One also finds a good deal 
of mention of Imam Mahdi in the folk poetry of rural 
Sindh which unfortunately has not been documented yet. 
This folk poetry mostly takes place in the maqans. The 
word maqan in Sindhi language is referred to a sacred 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

confinement, he composed many marsiya (elegies) and 
manqabat. In one of his verses /manqabat, he called upon 
Imam Mahdi to help him: 

O light of the lord help me 
O knower of the secrets helps me 
O lord of the sufis help me 
You await to the call of Lord 
O last Imam, Imam Mahdi help me 
Mir Hasan Ali Khan was poet of great repute. He 
died in the Calcutta jail and later on his body was taken to 
Karbala for burial (Beg 1984:24). Besides, many other 
Sindhi poets continued to compose poetry in the Talpur 
and British periods. It still continues. There are several 
contemporary poets who compose poetry on Imam 
Mahdi namely, Mirza Kazim Ali Beg, Mir Abbas 
Ali Beg, Mirza Fateh Ali Beg “Shahid” and Mirza 
Sikander Ali Beg. The name of Janan Faqir Chan 
(d.1997), a Sufi poet, is also prominent. His poetry book 
(Haq Isbat) is full of verses on Imam Mahdi. One of his 
poems is rendered in the mystical style: 

Followers of Imam Mahdi! 

Mendicants with their heads uncovered 
Wandered in the wilderness 
Seeking for the master 
Followers of Imam Mahdi 
Uncontrolled are ascetics 
They moved in loincloth everywhere 
On the path of devotion! 

They came across the troubles, 

Followers of Imam Mahdi 
They found the master 
Their path then they followed 
Master appeared on the 15th 
Sha’ban, the auspicious day 

1141 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 


1. Allana, Ghulam Ali. 1991. An introduction to Sindhi 
Literature. Jamshoro:Sindhi Adabi Board. 

2. Beg, Mirza Abbas Ali. 1984. Kulyat Syed Sabit Ali Shah. 
Karachi: Islamic culture and Research Centre. 

3. Beg, Mirza Abbas Ali Beg. 1980. Khudayar Khani Mian 
Sarfaraz Khan Abbasi. Jamshoro: Institute of Sindhology. 

4. Baloch.N.A. 2009. North-West Frontiers of Pakistan and 
other Avenues of Historical Writings. Jamshoro: Pakistan 
Study centre, University of Sindh. 

5. Baloch, N.A. 2004. Sindh: Studies Historical. 
Jamshoro:Pakistan Study Centre, University of Sindh. 

6. Bhatti Rashid. 2002. Birth of Great Poet (Kalhora period, 
1700-184). Jamshoro: Institute of Sindhology, University of 

7. Khamisani, Amena.2003. The Risalo of Shah Abdul Latif 
Bhitai. Hyderabad: Bhit Shah Cultural Centre Committee. 

8. Junejo, Abdul Jabbar.1994. Sindhi Adab Ji Makhtasar 
Tarikh (A short History of Sindhi Literature). Kandiaro: 
Roshni Publicatons. 

9. Lambrick, H.T .Sindh: before the Muslim Conquest, II 2 nd 
ed. Jamshoro: Sindhi Adabi Board. 

10. Lari, Suhail Zaheer. 1994. A history of Sindh. Karachi: 
Oxford University Press. 

11. Sadarangani, H.I. 1987. Persian Poets of Sindh. Jamshoro: 
Sindhi Adabi Board. 

12. Laghari, Abdul Jabbar. 1999. Sindhi Shairi Ji Makhtasar 
Tarikh (A Short history of Sindh Poetry). Shikarpur: 
Mehran Academy. 

13. Mahar, Ghulam Rasool. 1996. Tarikh-i-Sindh:Kalhora 
Daur 1 &I1 (History of Sindh: Kalhora Period). Karachi 
Culture and Tourism department, Sindh. 

14. Schimmel, Annemarie.2004. The Empire of the Great 
Mughals: History, Art, Culture. London: Peaktion Books. 

15. Schimmel, Annemarie. 1986. “Karbala and the Imam 
Husayn in Persian and Indo-Muslim Literature” In Al-Serat 
Vol XII, Harvard University. 

16. Schimmel, Annemarie. 1986. Pearls fromThe Indus: 
Studies in Sindhi Culture. Jamshoro:Sindhi Adabi Board. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1113 

space with alam (Flag of Hazart Abbas) in the centre of 
the maqcm. At these maqans in the rural Sindh people 
mostly of Shia faith hold gatherings and folk poets 
assemble there to compose poetry not only about Panjtan 
(the Holy Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H), Ali, Hasan, 
Husain and Fatima) but also on Imam Mahdi. Apart from 
their own folk poetry, they also recite the poetry of the 
eminent Sindhi poets. It is indispensable to note that the 
poetry on Imam Mahdi started in the Kalhora period 
(1700-1783) and reached its climax during the Talpur 
period (1783-1843). 

Encourged by positive response from the public, the 
poets continued to produce poetry on Imam Mahdi in 
the British period also. And more importantly, it 
continues in the contemporary period too. We also need 
to document folk poetry of rural Sindh which is very 
simple and reflects their love and devotion to Imam 
Mahdi. If one happens to visit the cities of Sindh, one 
notices the fast growing devotion and love of rural 
population not only to Hazrat Ali (A.S) and his progeny 
but also to Imam Mahdi. If one visits the towns of 
Jhangara and Bajara, lying 20 km west of Sehwan City, 
the landscapes of towns are dotted with alams which is 
not an old development. It’s the recent phenomena 
that is taking place and reflects people’s devotion and 
affection to Hazrat Ali (A.S) his desecandants and Imam 

Apart from folk poetry, urban centres in the cities of 
Sindh also play a very important role in keeping the 
religious poetry alive. Some of the families especially 
the Mirza family of Hyderabad and the Rizvi and 
Mousavi families of Rohri play a significant role in 
keeping alive the religious poetry. 

1161 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

or place of worship of grihashtis or householder Naths 
whereas the term math is used for the astan (place of 
worship) of the Naga Naths. But this explanation is not 
very convincing as there are marhis which were founded 
by the Kanphatta Jogis. Moreover, the term math is also 
used for the burial place of an ascetic. To aviod sectarian 
affliation, I will be using the term marhi for the 
monastery of Veer Nath as it is locally called by the 
people. There are several marhis in many districts of 
Sindh, the prominent of which are: the marhi of Ratan 
Nath at Taung, the Jogi marhi near Islamkot, the 
Balakram marhi, the Dwarkanath marhi and the 
Jumnadas marhi in Shikarpur. A marhi serves as the 
place of worship for the Nath Jogis. The Veer Nath marhi 
is believed to have been founded by Veer Nath himself 
early in the seventeenth century. This marhi became the 
main centre for the Nath Jogis of Sindh who spread the 
teachings of Veer Nath. Over a period of time, this group 
of Nath Jogis became so powerful that they were even 
involved in the political decisions of the Sodha Rajputs in 
settling disputes among the various lineages of the tribe. 
Veer Nath’s followers played an instrumental role in 
resolving the family disputes of the Sodha Rajputs of 
Tharparkar. Their advice was always sought by the 
Sodhas during times of crisis and any war in Tharparkar. 

The information presented in this paper comes from 
interviews that were conducted with the caretaker and the 
disciples of Veer Nath. Some interviews were also 
carried out with members of the Charan, Sodha and 
Maganhar castes of Umarkot, Kharerio Charan, Chhor, 
Pabuhar and Densi. Both, in-depth and focused 
interviews were undertaken to acquire knowledge about 
the history, role and rituals of the Veer Nath sect of Nath 
Jogis. At the same time, all of the samadhis, shrines, 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1115 

Between Marhi and Math: The 
Temple of Veer Nath at Rato Kot 

If you want to become a yogi 

then observe the tradition of the yogis 

Forget adab, iklas, sabr,shukur, enmity and sorrows, 

Inayat says you should spend every moment of your 


buried within yourself, 

When you have learned this undertaking, 
then you will come nearer to Veer Nath 
Shah Inayat 


As apparent from the above verse of Sufi poet Shah 
Inyat, Veer Nath was an eminent Nath Yogi. He was also 
the founder of the Veernathi sampraday. Veer Nath Ji 
Marhi near Umarkot, once an important centre of Nath 
Jogis of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab and Sindh, still 
attracts both ascetics and common people. Veer Nath was 
a seventeenth-century Nath Jogi. This paper discusses the 
role played by Veer Nath in converting several people to 
“Nathism” and his disciples whose “Samadhis” are still 
sources of solace for the lower Hindu castes. 

Before discussing the history associated with the role 
of Veer Nath and his disciples, it is necessary to first 
define the terms marhi and math. The term marhi refers 
to the centre or a monastery of the Naths. The followers 
of Veer Nath further define the term marhi as the centre 

1181 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

and through guru-disciple transmission (Gold 1992:37). 
“Nathism” has been recognized by some as a separate 
strand of popular Indian religions representing, perhaps, 
an ancient religious tradition alongside “Vaishnavism” 
and “Shaivism”. However, in more recent times at least, 
Gorakh Nath has been identified with Shiva and, since 
the sixteenth century, the Nath tradition (together with 
Shaivism) has become partially eclipsed in north India by 
Vaishnava devotion. Nevertheless, the Naths still remain 
vital today, not only through the texts and legends that 
they have left behind, but also within the religious 
communities (Gold and Gold 1984:115). Sen 
characterizes the Nath cult as “an esoteric yoga cult based 
on austere self-negation and complete control over the 
vital, mental and emotional functions (Sen 1960:42). But 
as Nath teachings spread within popular Hinduism, both, 
their content and mode of transmission changed. From 
secret instructions imparted by guru adept to select 
disciple, nath ideas passed into folklore. There, these 
teachings are strongly associated with the “perfection of 
the body” (kaya sidhhi) and the quest for immortality 
(Eliade 1973; Maheshwari 1980). Nath may be simply 
defined as “Master” and the Naths as “Masters’ (of yogic 
power)” (Vaudseville 1974:85). Most of the scholars treat 
the terms Nath and yogi as interchangeable when dealing 
with the sect and its teachings (ibid: 85-86), Many for the 
sake of clarity, settle upon one or the other to use when 
speaking of that tradtion. The terms Nath and yogi are far 
exhausting the descriptive designation applied to Naths. 
Briggs discusses, “Gorathnathi,” “Darsani,” Kanphatta 
and Natha- all categorization of with identical or 
overlapping references that at times designate members 
of the sect(s) with which he is concerned (Briggs 1973:1- 
2 ). 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1117 

temples and marhis that were associated with the 
Veernathi Sampraday were visited. 

Temples and dhunis (campfires) of world-renouncers 
(Nath Jogis, Tyagis, Sannyasis, Baragis, Sadhus, Babas 
and Udhasis) exist in almost every important town and 
village of Sindh. At present, very few towns and villages 
in Sindh boast of such temples, maths (also called matha ) 
marhis and dhunis of Hindu and Sikh ascetics. Among 
such temples, marhis and dhunis, the marhi of Veer Nath 
at Rato Kot, which is located about 70 km north-east of 
Umarkot, is quite prominent. 

As discussed earlier, the marhi is believed to have 
been established by Veer Nath himself who came from 
Haryana in India and first settled in Umarkot. Veeso 
Sodho, the then ruler of Rato Kot, took him to his town 
and built a temple for him and his disciples. After his 
arrival in Rato Kot, the town’s name and fame spread far 
and wide and ascetics came from Rajasthan and other 
parts of India to enroll themselves as his chelas 
(disciples). Veer Nath traveled extensively to the popular 
pilgrimage centres of Gujarat, India, Sindh, Balochistan 
and he even went to perform some yogic practices at the 
pilgrimage centre located at Tilla Jogian which belonged 
to the Jogis of Jhelum, Punjab. 

During the rule of the Sodhas, Rato Kot was a 
flourishing town where a number of temples existed. 
However, the temple of Veer Nath (the Veer Nath Ji 
Marhi) was most prominent. Veer Nath belonged to the 
Nath renunciatory order, with “Nath” being the rubric 
term that may cover any of loosely-organized 
associations of the Shaivite renouncers, taking Shiva as 
their first Nath or guru. The Naths are masters of Yogic 
power and, as renouncers; they are celibate ascetics 
whose tradition must be passed on through recruitment 

120 1 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

(1982:103-4), the Asapuri at Nagar Thatta, Koteshwar 
and Pir Arre (Aari) were some of the sacred places which 
were associated with the Nath Jogis. However, Briggs 
does not mention the other sacred places that belonged to 
the Naths in Sindh which include the marhi of Ratan Nath 
at Taung, the temples of Ballpuri and Mangal Gar near 
Thana Bula Khan, the Dwarkanath marhi at Shikarpur, 
the temple of Mata at Ganjo Takar, Hyderabad and the 
temple of Ratan Gar at Kharerio Charan, Umarkot. 

The Naths were mentioned in several historical 
accounts that were written during the Kalhoro and Talpur 
Periods (1680-1843). The renowned Sufi, Shah Abdul 
Latif, who travelled to their religious places with them, 
mentioned the rituals that they performed there, in his 
poetry. Interestingly, he also discussed several of the 
renouncers who made pilgrimages to sacred places. The 
list that he provides in his poems is very long. Shah has 
devoted two whole stirs, Ramkali and Khahori 
exclusively, to the yogis and there are also some 
references in other surs as well. Shah used several titles 
to refer to the yogis. Some of the names refer to the sects 
and sub-sects of different groups of yogis, while others 
are adjectives which allude to their characteristics, for 
example, the term ‘dothi’ suggests those who eat dnlh 
(wild plants), gunga and bora mean mute and deaf, i.e. 
these yogis who have voluntarily stopped talking and 
listening. The titles by which he refers to yogis are: 
Mahesi, Shivaite, Kanphata, Kancut, Kapar, Bobu, 
Behari, Nanga, Adesi, Mavali, Sabri, Malakuti, Jabaruti, 
Kapat, Faqir, Khahori, Nuri, Nari, Dothi, Gunga, Bora, 
Sannyasi, Bhabhutiyya, Khaki, Rawal, Harkes and 
Gaudariyya (Sayed 1988:119). This list shows the 
sectarian affiliation of various ascetics. The Naths of the 
Veernathi sect are also referred to as “Langotiyas/Nagas” 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1119 

There are ten orders of ascetics (popularly known as 
Dasnamis) namely: Aryana, Asrama, Bharti, Giri, 
Parvata, Puri, Sarasvati, Sagara, Tirtha and Vana (Ghurye 
1953:82). However, some scholars and oral historians 
believe that there are more than sixty-five sects of 
renouncers. Each renouncer adds his adopted name to one 
of these ten orders depending on the centre in which he 
was initiated or the teacher who initiated him (Tripathi 
1978:42). It was thought that by practising severe 
austerities, Nath Jogis earn divine blessings and thus 
themselves become manifestations of divinity. 

Veer Nath fisrt settled in Umarkot and established his 
dhuni (campfire) which is still popularly known as ‘Veer 
Nath Ji dhuni’ (the campfire of Veer Nath) where today 
the samadhi of Gunesh Gar, a patron saint of the Rebaris 
or Raika caste, is located. According to legend, both were 
renowned ascetics and an interesting religious discourse 
took place between them. Gunesh Gar overpowered Veer 
Nath during the religious discourse and Veer Nath had to 
leave Umarkot for Rato Kot. Another version of the story 
is that later on, the Sodhas took him to Rato Kot after 
which he made Rato Kot his permanent abode. It was 
Veeso Sodho who facilitated him and is believed to have 
built the temple for Veer Nath, who died in 1604 A.D. 
The latter Sodhas also patronised the Nath temple at Rato 
Kot and repeatedly gave donations for the upkeep of the 
temple. Rato Kot became a well-known centre of the 
Naths Jogis and the terms ‘Jogis’ and ‘Naths’ are 
interchangeably used in Tharparkar. 

The Nath Jogis in Sindh 

The province of Sindh was considered a stronghold 
of the Nath Jogis and, as such, there were many sacred 
places of the Jogis in Sindh. According to Briggs 

122 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

There is also a small shrine of Veer Nath at the 
temple of Pir Pithoro. The main thalo (platform) where 
he used to halt before setting out to the main pilgrimage 
centres in Sindh and Balochistan is located in Sabo 
village, which is situated one km north of Dhoro Naro in 
District Umarkot. Apart from the samadhis of Veer Nath 
and his disciples, there are also two temples at Veer 
Nath’s marhi. 

The first temple belongs to Sheranwali/Durga and the 
other to Shiva (Fig.54). The temple of Durga is from 
Veer Nath’s time. It is believed to have been built by 
Veeso Sodho where Veer Nath and his chelas used to 
practise tapas or yog sadhna. The second temple, which 
belongs to Shiva, was erected in 1995 by the Sonara 
community of New Chhor Town. The Sonaras also 
repaired all of the samadhis of the Nath Gurus. They also 
placed an image of Shambho Nath in the marhi of Veer 
Nath and the octogonal tomb was then erected above the 
image of Shambho Nath (Figs 55& 56). 

The four samadhis lie under the canopies (Fig. 57). 
The two ‘northern’ canopies belong to Leel Nath and 
Shambho Nath. To the south of these are the samadhis of 
Veer Nath and his chela, Nirmal Nath (Fig.58). 

Veer Nath’s samadhi was built by the Hindu Sonara 
community of Umarkot and two samadhis under the 
building crowned by Shikaras are situated there. The 
‘eastern’ samadhi belongs to Veer Nath (as evident from 
the inscription) and the ‘western’ one belongs to his 
second guru, Nirmal Nathji. 

Nirmal Nathji 

Nirmal Nathji was the first chela of Veer Nath. He 
belonged to Sisodiya Rajputs. After the death of Veer 
Nath he became the guru of Nath community at Rato Kot. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1121 

by the current caretaker and the followers of Veer Nath. 

The Samadhis of Veer Nath and His Disciples at 
Rato Kot 

More than ten samadhis (tombs) exist in Veer Nath’s 
marhi. People belonging to the Hindu faith come to pay 
homage to these ascetics however; the most important 
samadhi is that of Veer Nath after whom the marhi is 
named. He was believed to have extensively travelled to 
every ‘nook and corner’ of Sindh to convert other Hindus 
to Nathism. He even went to Multan and the famous Jogi 
pilgrimage centre at Tilla Jogian as narrated by his 
disciples who resided at Rato Kot. There are many of 
Veer Nath’s dhunis, takyas and thalas (platforms) in 
Upper Sindh, particularly in the districts of Dadu, 
Jacobabad and Shikarpur, where he visited his disciples. 
Particular mention should be made of the Dwarkanath 
marhi that is associated with the Kanphata Jogis in 
Shikarpur where Veer Nath stayed for a longer period of 
time as compared to other parts of Sindh. 

There is also a Veer Nath Temple near Boreri Village 
in Khairpur Nathan Shah Taluka, Dadu. Veer Nath also 
spent some time here and established his dhuni. Later on, 
his disciples erected a temple over his dhuni. There is 
also a takya belonging to Veer Nath that is south of the 
samadhi at Ratan Nath, two km west of Taung in Thana 
Baula Khan Tehsil of District Jamshoro. Veer Nath spent 
considerable time at this samadhi at Ratan Nath before 
visiting Hinglaj. Baba Ratan Nath lived before Veer Nath 
and he practised austerities in the mountainous regions of 
Sindh and Balochistan where there are still many places 
bearing his name. Baba Ratan Nath is also believed to 
have travelled to Tilla Jogian, Peshawar and Kabul (in 

1241 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Gujarat with Peepa Nathji coming from the Solanki 
lineage of the Rajputs. After the death of Hira Nathji, he 
became the Guru of the Naths at Rato Kot. Peepo Nathji 
made several pilgrimages to Hinglaj in Lasbela. 
According to a caretaker of the temple of Veer Nath, he 
also visited the marhi of Ratan Nath at Taung, Sindh. 
Peepo Nathji died in 1704 and was succeeded by Jote 

Jote Nathji 

Jote Nathji was a Sisiodiya Rajput who was born into 
a wealthy family of Mewargam village in Rajasthan. 
Once, he was on his way to Hinglaj when he met the 
disciples of Veer Nath at Thatta. After returning from 
Hinglaj, Jote Nathji went to the monastery of Veer Nath 
where he was initiated into the Veernathi sect of 
‘Nathism’. It is believed that he was initiated into the 
Veernathi order of ‘Nathism’by Hira Nathji. Jote Nathji 
was a very knowledgeable person and, as such, he was 
made the Guru of Veernathi Jogis after the death of Peepa 

Leel Nathji 

Leel Nathji was also a Sisiodiya Rajput and he was 
born in Chitor Gad, Rajasthan. It is believed that he was 
initiated into the Veernathi sect by Peepa Nathji. He also 
made pilgrimages to Hinglaj and visited the famous 
monasteries of the Nath Jogis in Kutch, Punjab and 
Sindh. Leel Nathji died in 1770 and was succeeded by 
Sahaj Nathji. 

In addition to those referred above, several other 
chelas of Veer Nath, namely: Shiv Nathji, Utam Nathji, 
Bakhat Nathji, Gulab Nathji, Sacha Nathji, Surat Nathji, 
Suraj Nathji, Aughar Nathji, Shanbhu Nathji and Badal 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1123 

Like his master Veer Nath, he also travelled to famous 
Nath pilgrimage centres in Kutch, Balochistan and 
Punjab. He died in 1634 and was succeeded by Peero 

Peero Nathji 

Peero Nath was a Kachhwa Rajput who was 
converted by Veer Nath when the latter visited the Jaipur 
region in Rajasthan. He was originally a resident of 
Jaipur, but he left from there and accompanied his 
‘master’ to Rato Kot in Sindh. He remained Guru of 
Veernathi Jogis at Rato Kot for fourteen years. He died in 
1648 and was succeeded by Rupa Nathji. 

Rupa Nathji 

Rupa Nathji was a Waghela Rajput who was 
converted by Nirmal Nathji. Rupa Nathji (1648-1664) 
spent much of his time travelling in Tharparkar, 
Rajasthan and Kutch where he converted many people to 
‘Nathism’. Rupa Nathji is also believed to have visited 
the samadhi of Baba Ratan Nath at Taung. He died in 
1664 and was buried at Rato Kot marhi. 

Hira Nathji 

Hira Nathji belonged to a royal family of the Jareja 
Rajputs of Bhuj. He is believed to have been converted 
by Rupa Nathji during the latter’s frequent visits to Bhuj 
and Girnar in Kutch. Hira Nathji also converted many 
people to ‘Nathism’. He died in 1684 AD and was 
succeeded by Peepa Nathji. 

Peepa Nathji 

Peepa Nathji was also an eminent Nath Jogi who 
became a disciple of Rupa Nathji when the former visited 
some villages that belonged to the Solanki Rajputs in 

126 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

ambiance of harmony and tranquility. People hold these 
novice students of asceticism in very high esteem and 
they always try to avoid their ‘curse’. 

Canopies have been erected over the samadhis of 
Guru Leel Nathji and Guru Shambho Nathji. To the south 
of these canopies are the samadhis of Veer Nath and his 
first chela Nirmal Nathji. To the east of these samadhis 
are the temples of Shiva and Sheranwali. To the north 
and and east of the temple of Durga are samadhis of 
many disciples of Veer Nath. 

A marhi at Khyala village, in Banner district of 
Rajasthan, is also affliated with Veernathi sect. A few 
eminent Naths- Sahaj Nathji, Bakhat Nathji, Gulab 
Nathji, Suraj Nathji, Badal Nathji were buried in the 
marhi of Khyala, also known as marhi of Sahaj Nathji. 
The present Guru of the Veernathi sect lives in Khyala 
monastery in Rajasthan. 


The marhi of Veer Nath is still the main centre of 
Kanphata and the Naga Jogis of Sindh. The ears of young 
ascetics are still piereced by the present Guru, Gorakh 
Nath, of the Veer Nath marhi. Although this marhi is 
associated with the Naga Naths, the Kanphata Jogis also 
affiliate themselves with the marhi of Veer Nath. The 
young Kanphata Jogis believe that one of the disciples of 
Shambho Nath namely, Bhoora Nath, piereced his ears 
and became a Kanphata Jogi. Since then, a number of 
Kanphata Jogis requlary visit the marhi of Veer Nath. 
After their intiation into the Veernathi Sampraday, these 
young ascetics always go on the pilgrimage to Hinglaj 
Devi. For them, to be a true ‘Nath’, one has to make a 
pilgrimage to the shrine of Hinglaj. With this, their 
renunciation is thus completed, otherwise it remains 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1125 

Nathji, spread the ideology and thought of their mentor in 
Sindh, Punjab, Kutch and Rajasthan. 

An annual fair is also held at Veer Nath’s marhi. On 
the eve of the festival, the learned and knowledgeable 
people of the Hindu faith come from far-flung areas to 
attend the ceremonies and perform the rituals. 

On this occasion, the hagiographies of both Veer 
Nath and his disciples are narrated by the people, 
predominantly eulogizing their heroic deeds and parchas 
(miracles). In order to earn the blessings of these 
renouncers, people belonging to the lower castes of 
nomadic artisans and gypsies-Dalits (as well as others) 
swarm the temple during the holding of such religious 
festivals. The prominent Dalits who attend are the 
Meghwars, the Kolis, the Bhils, the Kabootras, the Odhs, 
the Bagris, the Karias, the Barhas, the Gurguhlas, the 
Kuchras, the Jatias, the Gareras, the Dabgars, the Kalals, 
the Gawariyas, the Gandahoras and the Pavias. They sit 
near the samadhis of the renouncers and sing the songs of 
praises that they have composed themselves. They also 
visit the samadhis of Oghar Nathj, Utam Shiv Nathj and 
Sacha Nathji in the village of Ranahoo in Khipro Tehsil 
of District Sanghar as these were also the disciples of 
Veer Nath who preached the thoughts and ideology of 
their mentor in every ‘nook and corner’of Tharparkar and 
who had converted many people to the Veernathi sect. 
These samadhis are still greatly venerated by all of the 
castes of the Hindus. However, the Sodhas of Ranahoo 
hold these samdahis in greater reverence; they have also 
taken up the task of maintaining the samadhis in good 

Apart from this, the temple of Veer Nath also serves 
as the main centre for the novice ascetics who appear to 
be intensely engaged in yogic practices and in creating an 

1281 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 


1. Briggs, George Weston. 1973. Gorakhnath and the 
Kanphata Yogis. Delhi: Moltilal Banarsidass. 

2. Ghurye, G.S. 1953. Indian Sadhus. Bombay: Popular 

3. Gold, Ann Grodzins. 1992. A Carnival of Parting: The 
Tales of King Bharthari and Gopi Chand as Sung and Told 
by Madhu Natisar Nath of Ghatiyali, Rajasthan. Berkely: 
The University of California Press. 

4. Gold, Daniel and Gold, Ann Grodzins. 1984. The Fate of 
the Householder Nath. The History of Religions 24 (2): 113- 

5. Kalhoro, Zulfiqar Ali. Temple of Veer Nath. Weekly Pulse. 
Januaryl3, 2014. 

6. Maheshwari, Hiralal. 1980. History of Rajasthani Literature. 
New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. 

7. Sen, Sukumar.1960. History of Bengali Literature. New 
Delhi: Sahitya Akademi. 

8. Srivastava, V.K. 1997. Religious Renunciation of a 
Pastoral People. Delhi: Oxford University Press. 

9. Tripathi, B.D. 1978. The Sadhus of India: The Sociological 
Study. Bombay: Popular Prakashan. 

10. Vaudeville, Charlotte. 1962. Les Duha de Maru. 
Pondicherry: Institute francais d’lndologie. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1127 

incomplete. Similarly, the current Gum of the marhi 
encourages his disciples to make the pilgrimage to 
Hinglaj as he believes that without the blessing of Devi 
(Hinglaj), none of his disciples can be tme followers of 
‘Veer Nath’. Due to every Naga Nath of Veer Nath 
having made the pilrigimage to the shrine of Hinglaj, they 
(the Gums) also expect their disciples to continue exactly 
the same tradition. 

This marhi is also a source of solace for the people of 
the lower castes, who visit it regularly in the hope of the 
fulfillmet of their wishes, which they believe will be 
granted to them by Veer Nath and his disciples. 

1301 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

clay brick structures. Sacred spaces are believed to have 
special properties that help infertile couples have children 
(O’Brien et al 2012). 

Sacred objects include sacred texts, dhoop 
(incense sticks), incense stick holders, camphor, 
wicker baskets for keeping fresh flowers to be used 
in daily pooja, silver and brass vessels for offering 
food and water to the deities. Mazumdar & 
Mazumdar (1993) have identified three types of ritual 
acts specifically related to the pooja area. They are 
(a) purificatory rituals (such as bathing, wearing 
clean clothes), (b) preparatory rituals (picking flowers 
from the garden, cleaning the floor of the pooja area, 
drawing ritualized patterns) and (c) pooja rituals 
(offering flowers and fruits to the deities, lighting 
incense and lamps, singing hymns, chanting prayers). 


This study was conducted in Hariyar village in the 
district of Tharparkar. The main objective of the study 
was to understand the local perception about various 
sacred spaces and their role in the every day lives of the 
villagers. For this, focus and indepth interviews were 
conducted to get data about the various religious sites and 
spaces in the village. Information about space and place 
attachment and hierarchy of spaces also came from these 
interviews. All the sacred sites of the villages were 
visited and photographed. 

Hariyar Village 

Hariyar is a populated village in Mithi tehsil of 
Tharparkar district. It is located 22 km east of Mithi 
town. There are many sacred spaces in the village which 
play an important role in the every day lives of the 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1129 

One Deity, Three Temples: 

A Typology of Sacred Spaces in 
Hariyar Village, Tharparkar 


The landscape of Hariyar village is dotted with many 
sacred spaces which include temples of Malhan Devi, 
Thans of Mauji or Rani Bhatiyani, Manbhan Varan, Gogo 
Chauhan, Samadhi of Kesar Puri, memorial stones of 
Hario Jago and Sonaras. The cults of Malhan and Mauji 
are widespread in Tharparkar. First, the paper will discuss 
typology of sacred spaces in Hariyar village and second, 
the temples of Malhan which are worshipped by Hindu 
castes of the village. There are three temples of Malhan 
Devi in the village which are erected by Jaga Rajputs and 
Meghwars respectively. There are also memorial stones 
in Hariyar Village which are a tribute to the 'unsung 
heroes and heroines' of Hindu mythology. This article 
deals with various sacred places-temples, thans and 
memorial stones of Hariyar. It also discusses a story of 
the fight between the Sonaras and Jagas which is still 
narrated by the Maganhars of Mithi town. 

In recent years emotional connections to places 
and symbolic qualities of objects and places have 
received increased attention (Rapoport 1970, 1976, 

1982a,b; Relph 1976; Duncan 1985; Altman & Low 
1992 ). The sacred places may be identified by the 
presence of a solitary mature tree, a spring or unique 
geological structure rising towards the sky. The sacred 
spaces are markedby stone piles, hedges or sometimes 

132 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

the hierarchy of sacred spaces is the marhi of Kesar Puri 
which also attracts many devotees every day and the 
fourth in the order are thans of Mauji followed by 
Manbhan Varan and Gogaji. The fifth category of sacred 
spaces includes the memorial stones of Jaga and Sonaras. 
All these sacred spaces constitute the pantheon of Hindu 
community of Hariyar. 

Temples of Malhan 

Before I discuss the temples of Malhan Devi , it is 
necessary to first describe her brief hagiography. As 
legend has it, Malhan was born in 1186 AD in 
Jhunagarh. Her father Bhersal Parmar was local Raja of 
the time. Bhersal was unhappy on her birth and managed 
to throw away her daughter through his servant when she 
was still an infant. The servant of Bhersal threw the 
infant Malhan into pot-kiln of Jagu Kumbhar of Janro 
village in Jaisalmer (India). When next morning Jagu 
found an alive girl in burning kiln, he pulled her out and 
made her his daughter, as Jagu had no children. As a 
grown up, one day while Malhan was playing with other 
girls, Raja Bhersal, passed by riding his horse. Bhersal 
asked the girls to give him and his horse way to go ahead 
easily. Malhan denied the way and blocked the horse 
rider’s way. Bhersal on inquiry (from his servant and 
Jagu Kumbhar) found that Malhan was his own daughter. 
Then Malhan along with Jagu went to Kohra Jaisalmer 
and lived at home of her maternal uncle (Chandar 
Shaikhar). Chandar forced Malhan for marriage but she 
refused. Despite her refusal, Chandar fixed the marriage 
of Malhan. A bird (bans) made its way to the ground 
from somewhere, Malhan jumped on the back of the large 
bird and flew towards the sky and never returned. Jagu 
then built a temple in commemoration of Malhan in 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1131 

villagers. From a than of Devi to a loharti of jhujhar (a 
deified hero) every space is venerated by the villagers. It 
is noted for the temples of Malhan Devi , memorial stones 
and a peculiar way of life of the villagers. The Jaga 
Rajputs, Mehar Rajputs, Bhils, Sami, Gurera, Meghwars, 
Nais (Hindus) and Kumbhars (Muslim) reside in the 
Hariyar village. Maher Rajputs worship Mauji/Rani 
Bhatiani. They have built thans to honour Mauji. Mauji is 
also known as Rani Bhatiyani. Mata Rani Bhatiyani’s 
real name is Swarup Kanwar who was the daughter of 
Jogidas Bhatti, a Bhatti Rajput from Jaisalmer district. 
She was married to Kalyan Singh ji, a Mahecha Rathore 
chief from Jasol village. Today her main temple is 
located in Jasol village in Banner district in Rajasthan 
(Bharucha 2003). Apart from Hariyar, shrines of Mauji 
are found in many villages of Tharparkar district. The 
Jaga and Meghwars worship the Malhan Devi who holds 
sway on their everyday behaviour. Both Jaga Rajputs and 
Meghwars have built separate temples for Malhan Devi. 

Typology of Sacred Spaces in Hariyar 

If one looks at the typology of sacred spaces in 
Hariyar village, the most sacred ones are the temples of 
Malhan Devi, an incarnation of Durga and his devotee 
Hario Jago. Inside the temple of Malhan are memorial 
stones of her devotees which are fixed in the the pillars 
and walls of the temples. These are sacred sub-spaces 
within a sacred space of temples which are also 
worhsipped by the Hindu community of Hariyar and 
other nearby villages. These sub-spaces include the thans 
of Gogaji and Malhan (only worshipped by Meghwars) 
and memorial stones at Malhan Jo Khud. There are three 
temples of Malhan Devi in the villages; two were built by 
Rajputs and the third by Meghwar community. Third in 

1341 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

east of the sand dune. It is partially a broken memorial 
stone (Figs.66&67). Only the upper part depicting a rider 
on the horse is extant. Hario from whom sprang 
Haripota, migrated some centuries back from Janro area 
near Jaislmer and settled in Mithi where he founded the 
village by the name of Hariyar. He was a devotee of 
Malhan Devi. The Jaga Rajputs have built a temple of 
Hario where his memorial stone is found. He is a 
kuladeva (family deity of Jaga Rajputs) who is invoked 
on a number of occasions whenever there is the birth of a 
child, or marriage in the family. Newly wedded couples 
always visit the temple of Hario to get his blessings. 
Likewise, newly born babies are also brought to the 
temple of Hario for seeking blessings. There are two 
shrines of Hario, first is located south of ‘Lohartin Wari 
Bhif, where exists his memorial stone and the second at 
Malhan Jo Khud which was built in 2013 (Fig.68). 

According to a legend Hario was a very pious person. 
He lived during the reign of Darabrash Sodho in Umerkot 
(Harijan 2005). It is believed that once drought hit some 
parts of Tharparkar. There was no water and grass for the 
cattle to drink and graze. People were migrating to 
barrage area. Despite of drought, the cattle of Hario were 
grazing and drinking water from the village pond. The 
village pastures were green and the ponds were full of 
water. People were surprised to see all this. The local 
people attributed this miracle to his piousness and 
sainthood. Apart from this miracle, the devotees of Hario 
also narrated many of his parchas (miracles) which he 
demonstrated from time to time 1 . 

The tank of Hario, where his cattle used to drink 
water during the drought, is located near his shrine and 
south of ‘‘lohartin wari bhit’. The tank was located 

1 Information shared by Anbhji Jago, bhopo of Malhan devi temple 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1133 

village Janro, Jaisalmer. The temple still exists in Janro 
and is the main temple of Malhan Devi (Varan n.d). 

The Kumbhars of Hariyar village have true respect 
for Malhan temple. During the wedding ceremonies in 
the community, it was an obligatory custom for 
bridegroom to visit and pay respect to Malhan Devi in 
this temple by bowing his head. 

There are three temples of Malhan Devi in Hariyar 
village. The first temple which is also the main and oldest 
is located on the Mithi- Chelhar Road (Fig. 59). It was 
believed to have been constructed by Hario Jago. This 
temple is locally called Malhan- Jo- Khud. As discussed 
above, there are also memorial stones fixed on the pillars 
and walls of the temples (Figs 60-62). 

Later, in 2006, it was rebuilt and renovated by Dani 
Rathi Krishan Kumar of Chelhar village. There is a small 
shrine of Malhan which was made by Meghwars of 
Hariyar village. They have kept wooden tablets of 
Malhan and fixed tridents into the floor of than (Fig.63). 
A second temple is located in Jaga Rajput ward of the 
village (Fig.64). A third temple is located in the Meghwar 
cluster of the village (Fig.65) which was erected by 
Meghwar community in 2004. 

The devotees of Malhan in Hariyar village still 
follow the age old tenets and women do not wear 
jewellery or ornaments. Their dwellings are made of 
wood and hay stack. They do not use burnt or unbaked 
bricks while building the house. Interestingly, not a single 
house in the village has a gate. 

Shrines of Hario 

Apart from various memorial stones on sand dune, 
there is also a memorial stone of Hario Rajput situated 

1361 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

mentions her committing sad with her brother-in-law. It 
is believed that she had an affair with Sawai Singh and 
that’s why she performed sad by throwing herself onto 
funeral pyre. Chaudhari (2009) cites the second story, in 
which Rani Bhatiyani has an affair and then throws 
herself on a funeral pyre, as the most common version of 
the Rani Bhatiyani narrative. 

Trembath (1999) argues that this version of the story, 
though common and popular among the Manganiyars, is 
in all probability far from the truth. She provides other 
instances of women performing sad for male members of 
their family other than their husbands and agrees that 
there may have been some precedence for this account 
(1999: 220). However, she says that “given the strict 
codes of behavior” among Rajput women in Rajasthan; it 
would have been highly unlikely for Rani Bhatiyani to 
have had an “affair” with her brother-in-law. 

Than of Mauji is sacred space not only for the 
villagers of Hariyar but also for the neighbouring 
villagers who visit the than frequently. Local Hindu 
community swarms the shrine during the mela which is 
held thrice a year. 

Than of Manbhan 

She was a pious lady of a Varan family from Dondar 
village in Nagarparkar and was married to Himath Singh 
Mehar of Hariyar village. She was a follower of Mauji. 
She was also believed to have established than of Mauji 
in Hariyar village about one-hundred years ago. Than of 
Manbhan is located northeast of Mauji’s than (Fig. 71) 4 . 
She is worhsipped by Mehar Rajputs and other 
communities of the village. 

4 Information shared by Hukam Singh 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1135 

between two dunes. It is called ‘Hario tar marho’ from 
where people can not cut a tree because it is prohibited 
(oan) by Hario 2 . 

IVIarhi of Kesar Puri 

Apart from the temples of Malhan, the shrine of 
Hario Jago, marhi of Kesar Puri is another sacred space 
in the village (Fig.69). It is believed that Kesar Puri took 
jivat Samadhi (living Samadhi, buried himself alive). The 
marhi of Kesar Puri is located west of Mata’s temple 3 . 
There are many marhis of Puri ascetics in Tharparkar. 
Two of his chelas (disciples) Ram Puri and Bhim Puri 
preached his thought and ideology in Tharparkar. The 
samadhis of both ascetics are located in Mahiyar villages. 
The marhi of Kesar Puri also attracts many people who 
do daily dhop at his samadhi. 

Than of Mauji 

The than (a small informal shrine, open-platform) 
containing image of a deity of Mauji is located in a 
Maher Rajput cluster of the village, west of the temple of 
Malhan Devi (Fig.70). There is a wooden tablet of Mauji 
which has been placed in than by his caretaker. 

Mauji’s real name is Rani Bhatiyani who was wife of 
Kalyan Singh, a Bhatti prince of Jaisalmer. She 
committed sad when she heard about Sawai Singh’s (her 
borther- in- law) death in battle by throwing herself onto 
the funeral pyre. There are different variants of the 
narrative. In another narrative, she commits sad after the 
death of her son by fasting. But Komal Kothari, a 
folklorist of Rajasthan collected a narrative which 

2 Information given by Pritam Das Dinani, a retired school teacher 

3 Information shared by Wagh Puri, shivadari of Marhi of Kesar Puri 

1381 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Jaga Rajputs who attacked their wedding caravan. The 
wedding caravan of Umbo was heading towards Rupa 
Maari in Badin from Ratnaghar, Rajasthan. The name of 
Umbo’s fiance was Son Bai 6 . 

The animals were cdecorated with bells. As the 
caravan passed by village Hariyar, the sounds of the bells 
reached the nearby village. Jagas, the devotees of Malhan 
Devi state that Malhan had prohibited the wearing of 
elaborate jewellery {Devi oan ) particularly small bells 
that jingle. Furthermore, Malhan had warned her 
devotees of the dangers of luxurious life and the 
importance of simple living, violation of which always 
brings curse {Devi samp ) and bad luck to a violator. 
Upon hearing the bells, the Jagas demanded women to 
take off their precious jewellery which they refused 
infuriating the attackers 7 . The Jaga Rajputs killed four 
Sonaras and one Maganhar. In the fight, bridegroom 
Umbo was also killed. When the news of his death 
reached Rupa Maari, his in-laws took his body to Rupa 
Maari where her fiance tied the wedding knot with his 
dead body and when cremated she too became sati. All 
other women whose husbands were also killed in the 
fight immolated themselves with their deceased 

Later, the descendants of the Sonaras erected the 
memorial stones in the same place where their ancestors 
and Maganhar fell. Their memorial stones immortalise 
the lives of women like a Keats' Grecian urn. There are 
five sati stones in the Hariyar. The names of the satis are 
Son Bai, Shatra Devi, Chandi Devi, Chaund Devi and 
Vindi Devi 8 . 

6 Information given by Hashim Maganhar of Mithi Town 

7 Informatin given by Anbhji Jago 

8 Information shared by karo Maganhar of Mithi Town 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1137 

Than of Gogo 

There is a mall than of Gogaji at Malhan Jo Khud 
(Fig. 72). The Nai Hindu community of Hariyar worship 
Gogaji. It is also one of the sacred spaces of Hariyar 
village. Apart from Nai community, the other castes also 
venerate Gogaja when they visit the temple of Malhan 
devi 5 . 

Gogaji, who is also called Goga Pir, and Zahir Pir (by 
Muslims), is most popular folk deity of northern India 
(Sikand 2003:165). The cult of snake God Gogaji is also 
popular among Rajput and non-Rajput castes of 
Tharparkar. He is worshipped in the form of snake and at 
his every than is placed an image of a snake. Gogaji cures 
the patients of snake bites in Tharparkar. 

Sati and hero Stones 

There are a number of memorial stones in Hariyar 
village commemorating satis (widow-burning) and 
jhujhars (headless heroes) (Fig.73). The memorial stones 
are located on a sand dune which belongs to Jaga and 
Sonara caste of Hindus (Figs.74&75). There are ten 
memorial stones, all of which are in crumbling condition 
due to decay. 

Recently an incident of attempted theft of the stones 
was reported. Such incidents are not unusual since these 
memorial stones are stolen and sold at exorbitant prices 
abroad. These 'treasure hunters' have successfully stolen 
precious stones from every village and this criminal 
practice continues unabated. 

The memorial stones of Sonara Hindus were erected 
to commemorate their heroism. Legend has it that these 
Sonaras and a man from Maganhar tribe were killed by 

5 Information given by Togo Nai 

1401 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

healing. The theraupectic nature of sacred spaces or 
shrines leave three important influences in the village 1) 
Shrines have attracted more devotees and pilgrims in past 
two decades. 2) The new shrines also come up. 3) With 
construction of new shrines, the older shrines also get 
extended and reconstructed. The new shrine of Malhan 
was built by Meghwar community in 2004. Likewise, a 
new shrine of Hario Jago was also built two years ago. 
Now, there are two shrines of Hario Jago in the village. 
The old temple of Malhan Jo Khud was also 
reconstructed in 2006. All other shrines of Manbhan, 
Gogo, Kesar Puri and Mauji were reconstructed recently. 

Reconstruction of the shrines is linked to poularity of 
place and deity, from local cult to the regional cult. A few 
sati shrines in other villages of Tharparkar, which were 
earlier worshipped by single caste, have now acquired 
multi-caste cult. Likewise, Malhan Mata, kuldevi of Jaga 
Rajput, is most popular deity of Tharparkar. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1139 

All the sati stones carry the similar image of 
namaskar (Fig.76). The memorial stones are divided into 
two parts; the upper containing the image either of sati or 
jhujhar and lower bearing the text that explains the 
probable cause of death of the sati or the hero. 

Hero Stone of Kesro Maganhar 

Sonaras also erected a memorial for Maganhar 
believing that he also died defending their patrons 
(Figs.77 and 78). This memorial stone is a testimony to 
the fact that the Maganhar died while serving and 
defending his patrons, something they took great pride in. 
The name of Maganhar was Kesro whose father Karo 
also served the Sonaras. Kesro belonged to Bahudhar 
lineage of the Maganhars. Bahudhars were famous 
musicians in Ratnaghar (Baloch 2003). They served not 
only sonaras but also the Rajputs. 

The Maganhars are an ancient caste of Sindh who in 
the past survived on the patronage of rulers and wealthy 
merchants. Maganhars are still keepers of family history 
of their masters. When a child is born in the family of a 
Sodha Rajput the Maganhars sing songs wishing the child 
a long life, apart from praising all members of the child's 
family on the auspicious occasion. They also sing of the 
heroic deeds of the ancestors of the Sodha Rajputs. When 
the Samma Rajputs' rule came to an end, some of the 
families of the Maganhars preferred to call themselves 
Sammas. Nowadays, these traditional musicians sing at 
the birth of a child, at marriage ceremonies and on certain 
other occasions. Usually, they play the dhol (drum). The 
Maganhar and the Charan castes have preserved the oral 
history of Tharparkar in their chhands (folk-poetry). 


Sacred spaces of Hariyar are sites of psychological 

142 | Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

12. Rapoport, A. 1982a. Meaning of the Built Environment: A 
Non-verbal Communication Approach. Beverly Hills, CA: 

13. Rapoport, A. 1982b. Sacred places, Sacred occasions and 
sacred environments. Architectural Design 9(10), 75-82 

14. Relph, E. 1976. Place and Placelessness. London: Pion. 

15. Sikand, Yogender. 2003. Sacred Spaces; Exploring 
Tradtions of Shared Faith in India. New Delhi: Penguin 

16. Trembath, Shirley. “The Rani Bhatiyani Songs: New or 
Recycled Material?” In Religion, Ritual, and Royalty, edited 
by Narendra Singhi and Rajendra Joshi. Rajasthan Studies. 
Jaipur: Rawat Publications, 1999. 

17. Varan, Narpat Singh, n.d. Malhan Shakti ka Ithaas env aarti 
sngreh (in Hindi). Malhan Parchaar Samitti: Barmar. 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1141 


1. Altman, 1. & Low, S. M. (Ed.) (1982). Place 

Attachment. New York, NY: Plenum 

2. Baloch, N .A.2003 .Rehan Hiran Kh’an. Vol, 

5.Hyderabad:Sindhi Shat Ghar. 

3. Bharucha, Rustom.2003. Rajasthan, An Oral History: 
Conversations With Komal Kothari. New Delhi: Penguin 

4. Chaudhuri, Shubha.2009. “The Princess of the Musicians: 
Rani Bhatiyani and the Manganiars of Western Rajasthan.” 
In Theorizing The Local: Music, Practice, and Experience 
in South Asia and Beyond, edited by Richard Wolf, 97-111. 
Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

5. Duncan, J. S. 1985. The house as a symbol of social 
structure: notes on the language of objects among 
collectivistic groups. In 1. Altman & C. M. Werner, eds., 
Home Environments. New York, NY: Plenum, pp. 133- 

6. Harijan, Raichand.2005. Tarikh-e-Registan (History of the 
Desert). Jamshoro: Sindhi Adabi Board. 

7. Harlan, Lindsay. 1992. Religion and Rajput Women: The 
Ethic of Protection in Contemporary Narratives. New 
Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt Ltd. 

8. Mazumdar, S.& Mazumdar, S. 1993.Sacred space and place 
attachment. Journal of Environmental Psychology>. 13, 231- 

9. O’Brien,Vincent,Djusipov,Kenesh and Kudaibergenova, 
Tamara.2012. Place, Culture and Everyday Life in Kyrgyz 
Villages. In Making Sense of Place: Multidisciplinery 
Perspectives, ed. Ian Convery, Gerard Corsane, and Peter 
Davis 79-92, Woodbridge:The Boydell Press. 

10. Rapoport, A. (1970). Symbolism and environmental 
design. International Journal of Symbology>. 1(3), 1-9. 

11. Rapoport, A. (1976). The Mutuallnteraction of Peopleand 
Their Built Environment. The Hague, Holland: Mouton 


Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

146 | 

Fig.3 Illegally dug stone circular structure on Bapro Rek Buthi 

Fig.4 Circular pit grave on Bapro Rek Buthi 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1145 






\ M 

Fig. 1-Map showing the sites of stone circular structures in 
Mol Valley, Sindh-Kohistan 

Fig.2 Stone circular structures and menhirs on Bapro Rek 


1481 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Fig.7 Circular pit grave on Shaikhani Buthi 

Fig. 8 Cup-marks on the dislodged slab of circular tomb on 
Shaikhani Buthi 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1147 

Fig.5 Menhirs on Bapro Rek Buthi 

Fig.6 Illegally dug stone circular structure on Shaikhani Buthi 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

150 | 

Fig.l 1 Stone circular structure at Taung Valley 

Fig. 12 Stone circular structure at Rohel Ji Kund, Gaj Valley 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1149 

Fig. 9 Pottery vessel found from circular pit grave at Bapro Rek 


Fig. 10 Base of pottery vessel found from grave at 
Bapro Rek Buthi 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

152 | 


Fig. 15 Stone Alignment at Thohar Kanaro 

Fig. 16 Caim at Thohar Kanaro 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 151 

Fig. 13 Stone Circle at Thohar Kanaro 

Fig. 14 Menhir at Thohar Kanaro 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

154 | 

Fig. 19 Wankhand Square structure 

Fig.20 Wankhand Menhir 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 153 

O-.■ • 

Fig. 17 Stone row at Burfat Village 

Fig. 18 Monoliths at Khet Waro Muqam 

1561 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Fig.23 Stone alignment at Melo 

Fig.24 Menhir at Manhah Buthi 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1155 

Fig.21 Menhir at Kand Jhang 

Fig.22 Menhir at Ghaggar Phatak, Karachi 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

158 | 

Fig.27 A view of Chaukhandi tombs in Karachi 

Fig.28 Recently built tombs of Sindhi writers 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1157 

Fig.25 Square structure at Rozi Band 

Fig.26 Caim Circle near Usman Shah shrine 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

160 | 

Fig.31 The Jats invariably adorn their camels with decorative 


Fig.32 Camel tastefully decked out with garlands, bands and bell 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1159 

Fig.29 Recently built canopy of Jam Murad Ali 

Fig.30 A road to Chaukhandi tombs 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

162 | 

Fig.35 Camel with mesmerizing designs 

Fig.36 Each of the pattern constructs and creates the identity 
of both owner and the artist 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 161 

Fig.33 A camel decorated with colourful Jhull in Islamkot, 

Fig.34 Camels decorated with headdresses and gorbands 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

164 | 

Fig.40 Young Jat riding on the camel 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1163 

Fig.37 Patterns on a camel at Karachi 

Fig.38 A camel at camel market at Karachi 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

166 | 

Fig.43 An impressive building over Shabeeh and Zareeh of 
Imam Hussain at Khairpur 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 165 


: ■' 

•i’rt y • tf$/§p . _ • Mf d-T* 

Kh\l* {* J? V'A . ^yy.’y, ;- 

-r' . aT/. W 

ra 'V v 4 /\ ~ ,v ‘ *f 1 ft" jp ‘‘ 8?)• *p* i 


Fig.41 Decorated camels get more value in the market 

Fig.42 Shabeeh (replica) of Imam Hussain’s shrine at Hyderabad, Sindh 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

168 | 

Fig.45 Imam Ali Gate of Shabeeh and Zareeh Mubarak of 
Imam Hussain at Khairpur 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 167 

Fig.44 A devotee at the Shabeeh of Imam Hussain in 
Khairpur, Sindh 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

170 | 

Fig.48 A devotee at Zareeh Mubarak of Hazrat Abbas 
Alamdar in Qadamgah Imam Ali shrine, Hyderabad 

Fig.49 Jhoola (cradle) of Shahzada Ali Asghar at Qadamgah 
Imam Ali shrine, Hyderabad 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 169 

Fig.46 View of under construction shrine of footprints of 
Imam Ali at Hyderabad 

Fig.47 Interior view of Qadamgah (footprints) Imam Ali at 


Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

172 | 

Fig.52 Shabeeh (replica) of Imam Hussain’s Roza at Kot Diji, 


Fig.53 Painting of Imam Ali’s Roza in the tomb of Shadi 
Shaheed (built in 2007) in Khairpur 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1171 

Fig.50 Jhoola(cradle) of Shahzada Ali Asghar at Shabeeh of 
Imam Hussain, Kot Diji, Khairpur 

Fig.51 Zareeh Mubarak of Imam Hussain at Kot Diji, 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

174 | 

Fig. 56 Image of Shambo Nath at the marhi of Veer Nath 

Fig.57 Samadhis of Leel Nath, Shambho Nath, Veer Nath and 

Nirmal Nath 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 173 

Fig.54 Temples of Durga and Shiva at the marhi of Veer Nath 

at Rato Kot 

Fig.55 Canopy of Shambho Nath 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

176 | 

Fig.60 Memorail stone at Malhan Jo Khud 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 175 

Fig.58 Samadhis of Veer Nath (on the left) and Nirmal Nath 

(on the right) 

Fig.59 Malhan Jo Khud rebuilt in 2006 

Fig.62 Memorial stone fixed on pillar of temple 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 177 

Fig.61 Another memorial stones fixed on wall of temple 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

180 | 

Fig.65 Temple of Malhan in Meghwar cluster of Hariyar 


Fig.66 Shrine of Hario Jago 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 1179 

Fig.63 Wooden tablets of Malhan at Than of Malhan at 
Malhan Jo Khud 

Fig.64 Temple of Malhan in Jaga Rajput cluster of Flariyar 


Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

182 | 

Fig.69 Marhi of Kesar Puri 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 181 

Fig.67 Memorial stone of Hario Jago 

V. 4 

Fig.68 Hario temple near Malhan temple 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

184 | 

Fig.72 Than of Gogaji, the snake deity 

Fig.73 Memorial stones of Sonaras 

Fig.70 Than of Mauji 


Fig.71 Than of Manbhan Varan 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

186 | 

Fig.76 Sati stone at Hariyar village 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 185 

Fig.74 A memorial stone of Jaga warrior 

Fig. 75 A hero stone of Sonara caste 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 187 

Fig.77 Hero stone of Maganhar 

1901 Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Jats 13, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, Lai Shahbaz 86, 93, 

45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 
51, 52, 53, 57, 58, 59, 
60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 
66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 

Jamalis 42, 43, 70, 

Jaisalmer 115, 116, 

Jaga 113, 114, 115, 116, 
117, 120, 121, 122, 

Kech Makran 45, 

Kak Mahal 54, 

Kand Jhang 29, 

Kararo Muqam 24, 


90, 94,99 

Kalhoras. 86, 87, 88,94 

Karachi 12, 16, 21, 22, 
23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 32, 
33, 34, 35, 64, 

Khairpur 67,73, 74, 75, 
76, 78, 81,96, 106, 

Kutch 40,107, 108, 109, 

KotDiji 81, 

Khawja Muhanmmad 

Zaman 88, 

Kaaba 82, 

Karbala 74, 75, 76, 77, 81, 
85, 89, 90, 91, 94, 97, 

Larkana 67, 

Lutfullah Qadri 88, 

Mashhad 75, 

Madina 81, 

Makkah 81, 

Malhan 43, 113, 114, 
115, 116,117, 118, 

119, 120, 122, 

Maganhar 102, 120, 121, 

122 , 

Madrasa 75, 78, 

Mauji 113, 114, 115, 118, 
119, 122, 

Mauji 113, 114, 115, 118, 
119, 122, 

Matiari 13, 57, 

MakhdumNuh 88, 

Mir Karam Ali Talpur 91, 

Syed Sabit Ali Shah 91, 


Mirza Qurban Ali Beg 95, 

Mirza Qasim Ali Beg 95, 

Muhammad Muhsin 89, 


Mir Masum Shah 87, 

Mian Muradyab Kalhoro 

Mian Ghulam Shah 
kalhoro 86, 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

| 189 


Ali Asghar 81, 

Arghuns 86, 

Abdul Hussain Sangi 95, 
Bedil Rohri waro 91, 96, 
Burfat 24, 25, 

Bambhore 45, 

Badin 52, 55, 58, 66, 67, 

120 , 

Chaukhandi 11, 12,13, 26, 
31,32, 33,34,35, 

Charan 122, 

Digano Jamali,45, 47, 49, 
57,58,59,62,63,64, 67, 

Delhi 87, 

Duhsala 37, 

Dadu 44, 66, 67, 

Darabrash 117, 

Gadap 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 
27, 28, 29, 

Ghaggar Phatak 26, 

Gogo 113, 

Gharo 35, 

Hariyar 13, 113, 114, 115, 
116, 117, 119, 120, 
122 , 

Hario 113, 115, 116, 117, 
118, 122, 

Hazrat Abbas 80, 

Hasan 31, 90, 91,92, 96, 97, 

Hussain 73, 74,75, 76, 80, 
81,82, 95,96, 

Hyderabad 43, 65, 73, 74, 
78, 79, 96, 97, 99, 105, 

Imam Mahdi 11, 74, 76, 

77, 78, 80, 85, 92, 93, 
94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 

Imam Ali 73, 74, 75, 77, 

78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85, 

Imam Reza 81, 

Isfahan 86, 93, 

Iran 78, 85, 86, 88, 92, 93, 

India 23, 27, 29, 38, 79, 
86, 87, 88, 92, 103, 
120 , 

Jam Murad,3 3 
Jam Murid, 33 
Jam Miran 35, 

Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 


Thana Bula Khan 15, 16, 

Thohar Kanaro 22, 23, 24, 

Thatta 22, 26, 89, 96, 

Tharparkar 60, 110, 114, 
115, 122, 

Taung 18, 21, 26, 102, 
105, 106, 108, 

Umarkot 54, 104, 107, 

Usman Shah 29, 

Veer Nath 13, 101, 102, 
103, 104, 105, 106, 
107, 108, 109, 110, 
111 , 

Wankhand 25, 26, 

Zareeh 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 
78, 80,81,82, 


Archaeology, Art and Religion in Sindh 

Mian Sarfaraz Kalhoro 

Mian Noor Muhammad 
Kalhoro 89, 92, 

Meds 37, 38, 39, 

Melo 26, 27, 28, 

Magsis 42, 43, 44, 

Moidan 23, 28, 

Mol 15, 16, 18, 22, 23, 
24, 26, 27, 

Marvi 53, 

Moomal 53, 54, 

Mughals 86, 

Najaf 75, 81, 

Nadir Shah 85, 86, 92, 93, 

Noor Muhammad 

Kalhoro 89,92 

Punhun 45, 46, 

Punhoon 50, 51, 52, 

Qadimgah 80, 

Qubo Shahdad 81, 

Rohri 98, 99, 

Rajasthan 103, 108, 115, 

Rozi Band 28, 

Rato Kot 103, 104, 105, 

Ratan Gar 105, 

Sanghar 65, 81, 110, 

Shah Inayat 101, 

Sahsi 37, 

Sassui 45, 52, 53 
Sehwan 21, 98, 99, 

Sodhas 102, 103, 104, 

105, 110, 

Shikarpur 106, 

Sindhi 11, 12, 32, 53, 54, 
80, 85, 86, 88, 89, 91, 
92, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 

Sindh-Kohistan 15, 22, 

Sindh 11, 12, 13, 15, 18, 
21, 22, 23, 28, 35, 37, 
38, 39, 42, 54, 55, 63, 
64, 65, 67, 70, 74, 75, 
78, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85, 
86, 87, 88, 89, 92, 93, 
96, 98, 99, 102, 105, 

106, 107, 122, 

Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai 

Shabeeh 73, 74, 75, 76, 
77, 78, 79, 80,81,82, 

Talpur.42,43,63,74, 75, 

76, 79, 80,81, 

86,91,94,95, 96, 97, 98, 
99, 105 


79,81,86, 88,89,94,96, 

Tarkhans 86, 87